The White Sox have acquired speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson from the Pittsburgh Pirates to bolster their team speed for the 2020 stretch run. In exchange, the Sox will be taking on the remaining $333,000 of his 2020 salary and sending the Pirates international bonus pool space.
Considering the cost of this acquisition, this is a sneaky-nice pickup for the White Sox. Dyson is a specialist who will fill two very specific roles, pinch-runner and defensive replacement. Both of these roles will take on additional importance as the battle for the AL Central heats up, as well as throughout the postseason.
Let’s take a look at some of Dyson’s Statcast metrics and how they help paint the picture of his utility to the 2020 White Sox:
Dyson as defensive replacement
When the White Sox are able to muster a late lead, they will now have the ability to insert Dyson and Adam Engel into the game as defensive replacements for Eloy Jiménez and Nomar Mazara (if Engel is not starting already).
According to the new-school train of thought based on advanced analytics, outfield defense has been proven to be extremely valuable. An outfield patrolled by Luis Robert, Engel, and Dyson will be second to none.
Dyson as a pinch runner
The White Sox will also be able to use Dyson as a pinch-runner. Based on Dyson’s sprint speed, it is apparent that Dyson is very fast, but maybe a tick below where one would think (His 2019 sprint speed is more accurate than 2020, ranking in the 83rd percentile). However, sprint speed only measures top-end speed, and fails to take acceleration into account. Dyson’s outs above average have consistently outperformed both his sprint speed and outfielder jump metrics, an indication that Dyson’s acceleration is elite.
This acceleration/speed combo has allowed Dyson to carve out a career as one of the most efficient base-stealers in the game. Dyson stole 30-of-34 bases last year and owns a career 85% success rate on stolen bases. In 2020, baserunning has taken on added significance with the new extra-inning rules, so Ricky Renteria will have the option to send Dyson into the game as the runner who starts on second base in extras.
As long as the Sox keep a “Do Not Enter” sign on the batter’s box when it comes to Dyson, he will provide the Sox with a specialized weapon that not many teams can match. Although this addition is likely not the big splash White Sox fans are hoping for, it is a low-risk move that should improve the team as a whole.
In the coming days, we will see if this is Chicago's main deadline acquisition, or if it is only the tip of the iceberg.