Rays, Rockies swap Jake McGee, Corey Dickerson in odd trade

This trade is a little difficult to figure out: The Tampa Bay Rays are sending hard-throwing lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Corey Dickerson. There is also one minor leaguer involved on each side.

On the surface, it makes some sense. The Rockies had the worst bullpen ERA in the majors last season at 4.70; even by Coors Field standards, that's awful and unacceptable. But the Rockies are also unlikely contenders in 2016, so using valuable current resources for a relief pitcher seems strange, especially considering McGee has just two seasons of team control versus four for Dickerson.

As for the Rays, they certainly need offense, but they would appear to be locked in with Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. in the outfield, and the overall outfield production last year wasn't terrible, ranking 15th in the majors in wOBA. They also have James Loney, Logan Morrison, Brandon Guyer and Richie Shaffer for first-base/DH duties. Plus, the bullpen was a mixed bag, ranking 20th in ERA, and the Rays lost eight games they were leading after seven innings (and went 2-13 in extra innings). A better season from closer Brad Boxberger, who served up nine home runs and 32 walks in 63 innings while losing 10 games, will help in that regard, but I don't necessarily see the Tampa Bay pen as an area of depth.

For a small-market team such as the Rays, however, it makes sense to try and flip an asset like McGee -- who, mind you, pitched just 37 innings last year -- into a bat like Dickerson's. He has always hit well: .321 career average in the minors and .299/.345/.534 line in 265 major league games. Dickerson was limited to 65 games in 2015 after missing time with plantar fasciitis and fractured ribs but hit .304/.333/.536 when he did play. In 2014, he hit 24 home runs and slugged .576. Yes, he has big home/road splits in his career (1.085 OPS at Coors, .695 on the road), but there's evidence that playing at Coors produces extreme home/road splits. I think those splits will balance out in leaving Colorado.

I suspect Dickerson will spend a lot of time DHing and backing up the other three outfielders, leaving Loney and Morrison to "battle" it out for regular duties at first base. The Rays have made nice, little additions on the offensive side of things: Brad Miller can hit against right-handers, Hank Conger should provide more offense behind the plate (although he threw out just one of 43 base stealers with the Houston Astros), maybe Jennings will actually stay healthy and Souza improves. Tampa Bay could roll out a lineup like this:

LF Jennings

SS Miller/Tim Beckham

3B Evan Longoria

2B Logan Forsythe

DH Dickerson

RF Souza

1B Morrison

CF Kiermaier

C Conger/Curt Casali

The Rays were 14th in the American League with 644 runs last year, but that looks like a lineup that should score more than that. If they get anything from Matt Moore and rookie Blake Snell in the rotation and don't go 2-13 again in extra innings, they have sleeper team written all over them.

As for the Rockies, I can think of two angles here. Or three. One, they couldn't find any takers for Carlos Gonzalez (or maybe they're leery of alienating a fan base after trading away Troy Tulowitzki; although all fans want to see is a winning team). Beyond that, Colorado could simply be looking to flip McGee now or during the season. Given teams' desires to stockpile bullpen depth, McGee would be a great addition to a playoff-bound team -- he's a power lefty who can pitch to both right-handed and left-handed hitters. Or, given the state of their rotation, the Rockies are just trying to build as much bullpen depth as possible, sort of going the Kansas City Royals route in which the starters aren't expected to go deep into games.

That's not a bad philosophy given the extreme environment the Rockies play in (although it doesn't solve the team's inability to hit on the road); my only issue is that McGee has only two seasons left until free agency. Do you see the Rockies contending in 2016 or 2017?