MLB Rumors: The Chicago Cubs and Joc Pederson, a free agent who has up to now been with the Los Angeles Dodgers for his entire career, have agreed to terms on a one year, $7 million deal, per reports.
Pederson, 28, is a lefthanded hitting corner outfielder who was originally an 11th round pick of the Dodgers out of Palo Alto, California, in 2010 — he fell in the draft due to bonus demands, and the Dodgers grabbed him for a $600,000 signing bonus. He shot up the ranking boards a few years after being drafted, and was BA’s #1 Dodgers prospect in 2014 and #2 Dodgers prospect in 2015 (behind Corey Seager). He was also a consensus top 50 prospect heading into 2014 and was ranked #8, #13 and #18 by BA, MLB Pipeline and BP (respectively) heading into the 2015 season.
Pederson was an All Star in 2015 and finished 6th in the Rookie of the Year balloting, putting up a 2.6 bWAR while accumulating 585 plate appearances and playing center field for the Dodgers. Since then, however, he has moved into more of a platoon role, and has been primarily a corner outfielder since 2018.
While Pederson is a platoon player, he’s a very good platoon player — he has a career .238/.349/.501 slash line against righthanders, and he’s an asset defensively in left field, though his .191/.266/.310 slash line against lefties means that he’s not someone you want to have in an everyday role. The Cubs have Phil Ervin on the roster, having claimed him on waivers from the Seattle, and it would stand to reason that they are looking at platooning Pederson and Ervin (811 career OPS against lefties, 678 against righties) in left.
The Cubs offseason has to be seen as a major disappointment by Cubs fans, given the fact that they appear to be prioritizing cutting payroll despite having won the division last year for the third time in the last five years. The team dealt Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres, and while their return is stronger than the initial reaction would have suggested, they still moved an expensive, very good pitcher for a less good pitcher and several teenagers. They also non-tendered Albert Almora, Jose Martinez and Kyle Schwarber as cost-cutting moves, have been rumored to be willing to deal Kris Bryant, and have not, prior to this deal, made any notable additions.
The state of the National League Central is such that the Cubs are still contenders in the division — Fangraphs’ 2021 projections currently projects every N.L. Central team to finish below .500 this year — but the weakness of the Central leads one to wonder why the Cubs, whose window of contention appears to be starting to close, aren’t making a bigger push to try to be good in 2021. The Pederson pickup would seem to be a good one, and maybe they add another good player or two on one year deals, but for now, the Cubs don’t seem to be taking advantage of their situation.