Free agent Joc Pederson is hitting the market for the first time this offseason. While there are bigger fish out there, Pederson can certainly help a team looking for good power from the left side of the plate.
Pederson was drafted out of Palo Alto High School (CA) in the 11th round of the 2010 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. After working his way up the ladder, the Dodgers gave the young outfielder a September call-up in 2014. The Dodgers handed Pederson the starting center fielder position in 2015 and the 23-year-old proved he belonged. In his rookie campaign, Joc showed his good eye at the plate walking 92 times. He also showed the power he displayed in the minors blasting 26 HRs. He continued to show improvement in 2016, cutting his strikeout rate, improving his HR rate, and upping his OPS from .763 to .847.
Injuries took away nearly half of Pederson’s 2017 season, but he would return strong the following year. in 2019, Joc truly came into his prime. He set career highs with 36 HRs, 74 RBIs, and an .876 OPS. This season was rough on many players, and Pederson was no exception. Even with his struggles during the regular season, the Dodgers’ outfielder produced in the playoffs. He slashed .382/.432/.475 with a couple of HRs to help Los Angeles win their first championship since 1988.
It will be interesting to see if Pederson wants a one-year prove-it deal or if he would take a long-term contract at less AAV. On one hand, Pederson is entering his age-29 season and an excellent 2021 could set him up for a large payday next offseason. On the other hand, the CBA is set to expire in 2021, and locking into a long-term guaranteed deal now may be the more savvy way to go. A one-year deal could get Pederson $14-$17 million. A multi-year contract, such as for four to six years, would likely get him in the $11-$14 per year range.
Top Landing Spots
With Jared Kelenic knocking on the door and Kyle Lewis already entrenched in center field, the Mariners could go the long-term route. A multi-year deal would allow them to use Dylan Moore at different positions. It would also give Seattle a little more time to evaluate what they have in Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop. It would also give Jerry Dipoto flexibility when discussing trades as Fraley and/or Bishop could now be included. If the Mariners can get Pederson at a four-year/$50 million deal it could very well be a steal.
Chicago White Sox
Nomar Mazara is the only regular lefty in the White Sox lineup. He is entering his final year before free agency and hit just one HR this season. Pederson is an upgrade and would allow the Sox to get something for Mazara or keep him as a part-time DH and fourth or fifth outfielder. Pederson has also played first base and would give Chicago a chance to rest the soon-to-be-34-year-old Jose Abreu and keep the AL MVP fresh for a long season. The White Sox would be a team that could throw the one-year deal at Pederson with solid compensation of around $17 million.
The ‘Stros are one team that is looking for outfield help considering Michael Brantley, George Springer, and Josh Reddick are all free agents. Kyle Tucker is about all they have at this point. Getting a guy like Pederson to play right field is not only an upgrade over Reddick but gives them a lefty in a predominantly right-handed lineup. Houston may open up the wallet and could outbid their AL West rivals, the Mariners. Look for the Astros, if they really want him, to give Pederson the extra year and offer five years at $60 million.
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