In minor off-season baseball news, the Pirates and Padres hooked up on a trade that saw outfielder Jaff Decker and reliever Miles Mikolas head to Pittsburgh in exchange for 1B/OF Alex Dickerson, according to MiLB.com. Mikolas and Decker each made a late-season cameo in the majors last season with the Padres while Dickerson spent the entire 2013 season in Double-A Altoona.
Decker and Dickerson are relatively similar in terms of their status as prospects, although they go about it in different ways. Dickerson was drafted as a first baseman but has spent the past few years in the outfield, where he is a below average defender. He has above-average power, but an aggressive approach at the plate makes him a big-time out maker. As a left-handed hitter who could always come back into the infield at first base, the best-case scenario is a career similar to Garrett Jones, who was ahead of him in Pittsburgh until this deal went down. Jones was designated for assignment to make room for Decker.
Decker is a fellow left-handed hitting outfielder, although he doesn't have any experience at first base like Dickerson does. He is, however, ready to compete for a major league roster spot and could offer the Pirates a cheaper alternative to Jones, who was getting expensive.
Decker's best tool is his plate discipline, as he has routinely been among the minor league leaders in walks when he's been able to stay on the field between injuries. Not a bad hitter, Decker does have some platoon issues and loses most of his power when facing left-handed pitching. He does, however, maintain his plate discipline, which allows him to keep most of his offensive value. He's not a great defender either, but as he's gotten his stocky build more under control, he's spent some time in center field, something he won't be doing in Pittsburgh.
Dickerson can work himself into a bench role, but he's likely to settle in as a 4th/5th outfielder, platoon player, or 24th/25th man on the roster. Decker, on the other hand, has a better chance to get some regular playing time in a major league lineup. Neither is a true impact player, but Decker's plate discipline sets him apart and gives him a chance to settle in to a major league niche. In the meantime, he'll compete for a major league roster spot this spring and get a chance to show what he can do while keeping an outfield spot warm for Gregory Polanco.