The Pirates on Monday cut ties with one of their most popular players, outfielder/first baseman Garrett Jones, and traded the Curve's 2013 team MVP, outfielder Alex Dickerson, to the Padres.
Jones was designated for assignment, ending a five-year tenure in which he was one of the Bucs' most productive hitters. He hit 100 homers and drove in 325 runs while batting .256 in 677 games for the Pirates, including a career-high 27 homers and 86 RBIs in 2012. He also drove in 86 runs in 2010.
Jones had a disappointing 2013 season, hitting .233 with 15 homers and 51 RBIs in 144 games.
The 32-year-old Jones made $4.5 million in 2013 and is eligible for arbitration. Given his career production, he likely would have been awarded a raise in arbitration to about $6 million. But after his dropoff this past season, the Pirates are choosing to spend that money elsewhere.
"Garrett is a victim of the arbitration process," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told mlb.com. "His salary would be predetermined by comparable performances on the market, and we expected it to rise to a level we're not comfortable with. We had already decided to trade or non-tender him."
As long as Jones clears waivers, which is expected, he will become a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Dickerson was traded for two minor leaguers - right-handed pitcher Miles Mikolas and OF Jaff (pronounced Jeff) Decker.
Dickerson had a superb second half for the Curve and was named the team's MVP, as well as the Eastern League Rookie of the Year. He batted .288 with 17 homers, 68 RBIs and 36 doubles, and he was one of the top hitters in all of Double-A during the second half.
The 23-year-old Dickerson is a native of Poway, Calif., near San Diego.
"It came as a little bit of a surprise," he wrote of the trade in a text to the Mirror. "But I know how this game works, and I'm excited for the new opportunity I'm going to receive with the Padres in my hometown."
Dickerson, a left-handed hitter, had enjoyed a strong tenure in the Pirates' minor league system after getting drafted in the third round in 2011. He was the Florida State League Player of the Year for high-A Bradenton in 2012.
"We liked the two players we received from San Diego, and so Dickerson was the acquisition cost," Pirates assistant GM Kyle Stark wrote in a text to the Mirror. "We were not looking to move Alex, but you have to give up something to get something. In this case, we feel like we got two players capable of helping our major league club short and long term."
Stark said the Pirates were "extremely pleased and encouraged by Alex's year at Double-A."
"He improved every month through July and put together a very good year at the upper levels in only his second full season," Stark said. "We think he has a chance to hit and offer some defensive versatility."
Decker, 23, hit .286 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs last season for Triple-A Tucson and was 4-for-26 (.154) with one homer and two RBIs in 13 games for the Padres. He was a supplemental first-round draft pick in 2008.
Mikolas, 25, went 4-2 with a 3.25 ERA in 54 relief appearances for Tucson last season and had two scoreless appearances for the Padres. He was a seventh-round pick in 2009.