Joc Pederson Five Potential Landing Spots
Joc Pederson is one of the more undervalued free agent outfielders available this offseason. The 28-year old outfielder is coming off a down season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Over 43 games or 138 plate appearances, he batted .190/.285/.397 with an OPS+ of 84 and a -0.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) value.
If you rewind to the 2019 regular season, Pederson was much more impactful. In fact, from 2015-2019 he hit at least 25 home runs every season with the exception of 2017 when he finished with 11. Over 514 plate appearances in 2019, Pederson slugged: .249/.339/.538. In that span, he recorded 112 hits, 16 doubles, three triples, 36 home runs, 74 RBI, 50 walks, and 111 strikeouts.
Over his seven-year big league career, Pederson was named an All-Star in 2015. In addition, that was the same season he finished sixth overall in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting. Drafted in the 11th round of the MLB Draft in 2010, he has spent his entire career as a Dodger.
Given his age and production over a larger sample of time, there should be a number of teams looking to sign Pederson. Here are five potential landing spots to watch over the coming weeks.
Five Teams to Watch for Joc Pederson
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
It is certainly possible that the aforementioned Los Angeles Dodgers will bring Pederson back. The team has the financial payroll flexibility to do so and the organization is comfortable with the player that he is. Furthermore, Pederson gives the Dodgers depth in the outfield as he can play both corner spots. Over in left field, the Dodgers have A.J. Pollock penciled in while Mookie Betts is the everyday right fielder. Of course, Betts isn’t going to lose that job, but the Dodgers might see a platoon opportunity again for Pederson with Pollock in left.
Even though he had a down season this year, he still hit .333/.400/.333 against lefties over a sample of 10 plate appearances. Granted, that is very minimal, but Pederson has had success against lefties in previous seasons most recently in 2019. During that season over 41 games, the outfielder hit .224/.240/.505 against left-handed pitchers. Therefore, the Dodgers could very well see an opportunity to have Pederson as a platoon option once again in 2021.
2. St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are yet another landing spot for Joc Pederson. Going into this offseason, one of the main priorities for the Cardinals front office is going to be to try to find another bat. After all, the Cardinals are coming off a 2020 season in which they batted .234/.323/.371 over the 60-game sample. For a team with playoff aspirations, that is not going to cut it. If you combine that together, it equals an OPS of .694 which was the second-lowest value in the National League or in the bottom five among all thirty teams.
Therefore, someone like Pederson would be a very good addition to an offensive starved Cardinals lineup. Additionally, the Cardinals could use a left-handed bat to balance things out. As it stands right now, Dylan Carlson and Dexter Fowler are the only two outfielders St. Louis has that can hit from the left side of the plate. (As a side note, both Carlson and Fowler are switch hitters). As an added bonus, Pederson has the ability to hit leadoff which makes the Cardinals an even better fit.
3. Chicago White Sox
Another team that could potentially use some more stability in their outfield is the Chicago White Sox. Last offseason, the White Sox took a gamble and traded for Nomar Mazara who was then a member of the Texas Rangers. Chicago was hoping that Mazara would end up living up to the expectations that he has had ever since making his big league debut. However, the 25-year old fell short this season, but in fairness it was a shortened season making it hard to evaluate the player Mazara truly is. Over the 60-game sample, he hit .228/.295/.294 with one home run, 15 RBI, ten walks, and 44 strikeouts.
Given those numbers, he didn’t pan out the way the White Sox had hoped. Therefore, Pederson would be a good fit over in right field. Additionally, the White Sox would have the option of keeping Mazara as a fourth outfielder. Eloy Jimenez has the starting left field job locked down, but Pederson could be an option over there as well as Jimenez is a right-handed hitter. Beyond that, from a pure veteran leadership standpoint, this is one fit that makes a lot of sense.
4. San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are an interesting team to monitor this offseason. The team knows they have to add some pitching, but their offense greatly exceeded expectations this year. Overall, as a team Giants hitters combined for the sixth-highest OPS (.785) in baseball. Among the rest of the National League, that put the team fourth overall. With that being said though, San Francisco could always use an additional bat or two and Joc Pederson would be a very good option. Looking exclusively at the outfield, Giants hitters had a .349 wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average).
While that was the fourth-highest value in baseball, adding some certainty in Pederson would be a good investment for San Francisco. Add to that, the fact that he already has experience playing in the National League West. Over his seven-year big league career, Pederson has played 40 games at now Oracle Park (formerly AT&T Ballpark). Over that sample, he hit .271/.376/.514 with 29 hits, nine doubles, one triple, five home runs, 14 RBI, 16 walks, and 25 strikeouts.
5. Washington Nationals
There are several different teams that could fit here including both the Detroit Tigers and previously mentioned Texas Rangers. However, the Washington Nationals are on the look out for an additional bat this year after finishing the 2020 season in a very underwhelming style. After winning the World Series in 2019, the Nationals showed a bit of a hangover this year finishing with a 26-34 record which was good enough for a last-place tie in the National League East with the New York Mets.
The good news is that the Nationals still have a very formidable starting rotation, but need an additional bat or two to compliment the offense. Joc Pederson would provide that for the team and give them a fourth outfield/bench bat type of option. Right now, Andrew Stevenson is slated to be the team’s Opening Day right fielder. While Stevenson has the ability to play that position, Washington might want some certainty there. Pederson would give them that as well as a potential 20-30 home run bat which would be very valuable.
Final Thoughts on Joc Pederson
In the end, the market for Joc Pederson might take some time to develop. Some of the teams interested in his services could be focused on other free agent and trade options first. However, if those pursuits fall short, signing Pederson wouldn’t be a bad backup plan by any means. He is still young enough to make an impact in any team’s lineup and has the ability to play both corner outfield positions.
The five aforementioned teams are good bets for teams that would be interested in him. Although, there could be a value option for teams like the aforementioned Rangers and Tigers as well as potentially another up-and-coming team like the Seattle Mariners depending on the price point. Regardless, Pederson has developed a solid track record in the big leagues and that should benefit his case in free agency this offseason.
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