Alex Dickerson helped transform Giants, now looking for new home

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Zaidi 'grateful' for what Dickerson gave Giants in three seasons originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Alex Dickerson's time with the Giants ended quietly. At the bottom of a five-paragraph press release to announce the re-signing of Anthony DeSclafani to a three-year deal, the Giants noted that Dickerson had been designated for assignment. 

It was not a surprising end to his tenure. Dickerson, who is arbitration-eligible, was going to be non-tendered late next week anyway, and the Giants, needing a roster spot, decided to give the veteran a head start on finding his next home. After talking about the DeSclafani move, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi expressed his appreciation for everything Dickerson meant to the organization over three seasons. 

"I'm really grateful for his three years," Zaidi said. "He did a really nice job for us and I think he's going to wind up somewhere where he can get consistent at-bats, which I'm sure is important to him."

The Giants gave Dickerson that opportunity in 2019 after injuries kept him from breaking through in San Diego, and he should always be remembered as a key figure in Zaidi's push to quickly reload and win over a fan base. Zaidi had helped discover Max Muncy and Chris Taylor in Los Angeles, and while LaMonte Wade Jr. has nudged himself to the top of the current conversation in San Francisco, it was Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski who were the earliest examples of Zaidi's methods working with the Giants, too. 

Dickerson was DFA'd by the Padres in June of 2019 and then traded to the Giants -- for minor leaguer Franklin Van Gurp, who struggled in A-ball last season -- a few days later. Like with Yastrzemski, he was early proof that Zaidi and his front office could find undervalued players elsewhere and give them the runway, as Zaidi has said so often, to succeed in the big leagues. 

Dickerson's arrival also might have been the reason Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith ended up spending the rest of that season in orange and black. 

Dickerson hit a homer and drove in six runs on his first night in the lineup and the Giants, 11 games under .500 at the time, proceeded to catch fire. With the "Dick! Dick! Dick!" chants catching on in the dugout and ballpark, the team won 24 of the next 35 games to briefly sneak back into the wild card race. In what ended up being a sign of optimistic approaches to come, Zaidi kept the group together. At the time he said it was important to honor the good work the players and staff were doing. 

Dickerson's time in San Francisco ended unceremoniously. He posted an OPS+ of 156 in 2020 and was often Gabe Kapler's most feared left-handed bat, but he battled injuries this past season and spent the entirety of it searching for his swing. He talked often about how he was just a tick off mechanically, and he never quite found what he was looking for. After one big game, Dickerson said he found something he could go with while standing in the on-deck circle, but that feeling proved to be fleeting.

Kapler never lost faith, and in September he insisted that he felt Dickerson still had a big moment coming. The Giants put him on the playoff roster over Thairo Estrada and Dickerson struck out in three of four pinch-hit at-bats, which likely put the decision over the top. 

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Dickerson was due about $3 million, which made this an easy move. The Giants already have Yastrzemski, Wade, Steven Duggar, Darin Ruf and Austin Slater in their outfield and will seek further help over the offseason. Dickerson will look for a fresh start elsewhere. 

"He's had a really productive three-season stretch with us, and this year with the injuries and with some other outfielders emerging, especially down the stretch, he wasn't getting consistent playing time," Zaidi said. "He did a really nice job for us and it is a chance for him to get a jumpstart on the market. He was a guy that the tender decision, from the start of the offseason, was something we were evaluating. We started leaning more in this direction which is why he was the move today."

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