Tim Benz podcast: I asked Lonnie Chisenhall if he’s the 2019 Corey Dickerson
Corey Dickerson 2.0? Yeah. Maybe.
That appears to be the hope of the Pirates when it comes to the signing of Lonnie Chisenhall.
Like Dickerson, Chisenhall looks like a guy who hit a “sell by” date with his former club, even though a worthy bat still may still exist.
Chisenhall hit .321 with an OPS of .846 in just 29 games last year. He was slowed by calf injuries.
His best, full year was 2014. That’s when Chisenhall — originally drafted by the Pirates in 2006 — hit .280 with 13 homers in 533 plate appearances.
Dickerson was 28 when the Pirates traded for him last year. He impressed with a .300 batting average, an OPS of .804, and a Gold Glove.
Chisenhall is 29. Both are left-handed bats who play the outfield. Both are replacing players who were recently deemed to be cornerstones of the Pirates.
Dickerson jumped into left field when Starling Marte moved to center as Andrew McCutchen was dealt to San Francisco.
The goal appears to have Chisenhall play right field while Gregory Polanco recovers from a knee injury.
When Polanco comes back, look for Chisenhall to be a left-handed bat off the bench and a platoon outfielder. He may also help in the infield, seeing as he used to play third base.
I think we all know the Pirates weren’t going to go out and get Bryce Harper to play right field. After signing no one in free agency last year, I was concerned they were going to go with Jordan Luplow — who eventually got traded himself to the Indians on Nov. 14 — or any other combination that came to mind to fill the void while Polanco rehabs.
So, even though Chisenhall may not be a huge name to join the team, much like when they picked up Dickerson … it’s something.
At $2.75 million — with $3 million in incentives — that shouldn’t be an excuse for the Pirates to stop spending this off-season. They are a team that has the pitching to contend for at least a wild card next year.
But the bats need to be better. The hole in right field and the lack of depth off the bench were two of the most concerning aspects in that regard.
Chisenhall isn’t a cure-all. But acquiring him is a step in the right direction.
Chisenhall joins me for the Thursday podcast. We talk about overcoming injuries, his role before and after Polanco’s return, the transition to right field from third base, and the irony of now playing for a team that once drafted him.
Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.