The Padres announced they’ve selected corner infielder/outfielder Brandon Dixon onto the major league roster. San Diego designated outfielder Luis Liberato for assignment in a corresponding move.
Dixon is back on a major league roster for the first time in two years. Initially a Dodgers draftee, the right-handed hitter was dealt to the Reds as a prospect and made his MLB debut with Cincinnati in 2018. He bounced to the Tigers via waivers the following offseason and played his most significant MLB role with Detroit in 2019. Dixon tallied 420 plate appearances and collected a team-leading 15 home runs, but he struck out at a 32.5% clip and hit only .248/.290/.435. The Tigers designated him for assignment and outrighted him off the 40-man roster the following winter.
While Dixon made it back to Detroit briefly at the end of the 2020 campaign, he was granted his release heading into 2021 to pursue an opportunity in Japan. The Arizona product signed with the Rakuten Eagles and split the year between their major league team and their minor league club. While Dixon hit well in the minors, he struggled in 38 NPB games and came back to the United States this past offseason. Dixon inked a non-roster deal with the Friars during Spring Training, and he’s split the season between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso.
The 30-year-old has hit extremely well at both stops. He’s cranked 23 home runs in just 50 combined games, posting an on-base percentage above .400 while slugging over .780 for both affiliates. Thanks to those eye-popping minor league numbers, Dixon will get another look against big league arms. He’s split his defensive action between all four corner spots in the minors, but he’ll presumably work mostly as a right-handed bench bat for skipper Bob Melvin. Dixon has yet to reach arbitration eligibility, so the Friars could keep him around beyond this season if they’re willing to devote him a 40-man roster spot.
Liberato just earned his first major league call a few weeks ago. The longtime Mariners prospect signed a minor league deal with San Diego over the winter, and he’s spent much of the season in El Paso. Liberato had an impressive .261/.354/.541 showing with 20 homers for the Chihuahuas, but he’s been used in a very limited role since being promoted. The 26-year-old hasn’t gotten a start, although he’s come off the bench seven times (usually as a pinch runner). He’s gone hitless in his first five MLB at-bats, striking out three times.
San Diego will place Liberato on waivers over the next few days. Given his strong Triple-A numbers this year and ability to cover all three outfield spots, it’s possible another club will take a no-risk flier to add to their outfield depth. Liberato still has all three minor league option years remaining, so any team willing to keep him on the 40-man roster could stash him in Triple-A for the foreseeable future.
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