The year 2020 will be interesting for Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson. I am taking a break from the cheating scandals and the Hall of Fame voting results to talk about the upcoming season.
The 2020 calendar year started with Pederson and the Dodgers being $1.75M apart in arbitration numbers. For the last several off-seasons he has been subject to trade rumors and this off-season has not been any different. However, it looks like Joc will be in the Dodgers lineup against right-handed pitching starting the 2020 season.
The big question becomes whether the Dodgers just hold on to Pederson for one more season or do they consider a multi-year contract for him.
Should the Dodgers sign Joc Pederson to a multi-year contract this off-season or let him go into free agency next off-season?
— Tim Rogers *??- SDDODGER (@SDDodger) January 19, 2020
It is amazing that over 2,400 fans were split 50/50. This article will take a look at the career of Pederson so far and look at what a fair multi-year contract might look like.
The 2019 Season
All in all, it seems 2019 was Pederson’s best season in the Major Leagues. Last September I wrote about some key improvements he made. Pederson is a very streaky hitter and 2019 was no different. Some statistical highlights:
- Career highs in hits, runs, RBI and batting average
- 36 home runs – career high
- .558 slugging – career high
- .876 OPS – career high
- 127 OPS+ – career high
- Career highs in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating/150 (UZR/150)
With a bWAR (Baseball Reference wins above replacement) of 3.3 and a fWAR (FanGraphs model) of 3.0, Pederson was quite a bargain at $5M in 2019. Some value a WAR point of anywhere from $7-10M so Joc was worth anywhere from $21M to $30M in value. His arbitration salary demand of $9.5M does not seem unreasonable.
Figuring Out What Joc Should Be Paid
Below is a table of outfielders sorted by wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) of players with a similar wRC+ to Joc Pederson. The 2020 salary for each player is also included. If Pederson actually does reach arbitration I can see Joc willing his $9.5M request.
|Ronald Acuna Jr.||715||126||.280||.365||.518||$1.0M|
If the Dodgers want to keep Pederson, I wonder what the Dodgers might offer him. Joc turns 28 in April as he reaches his last year of team control. A good comparison might be Corey Dickerson who just signed a 2 year/$17.5M contract at the age of 30 (he turns 31 in May).
If the Dodgers want to give him a 3-year contract that covers his last arbitration year, then a 3 year/$27-30M would seem to be in order. The contract could pay the following amounts over those years: $9M, $10M, $11M. He would still be a free agent for his 31 year-old season.
"Let's go Joc!"
— ESPN (@espn) July 9, 2019
Other Options for Joc
A trade is always an option for any player but it looks to me like the Dodgers are going into the 2020 season with Pederson as a key outfielder. Alex Verdugo may still not fully healed from his 2019 injuries so I can see an outfield (from left to right) of A.J. Pollock, Cody Bellinger, and Pederson. A right-handed hitter would platoon with Joc. Once Verdugo is ready then things could change and then a trade becomes a possibility.
One other remote option is for the Dodgers to offer Pederson a Qualifying Offer (somewhere around $18M) after 2020. I don’t see the Dodgers doing that with a platoon player and I think Joc would jump on that offer. I just don’t see the Qualifying Offer happening unless Pederson makes some big jumps in production against left-handed pitching and a much higher on-base percentage without losing his power.
Joc Pederson is an interesting story and I was pretty sure he would be traded. Now that it looks like that time has passed and he’s going to arbitration, the Dodgers need to figure out what they want of Pederson in their future. He also needs to decide if he wants to try and get away from being a platoon player with the Dodgers. Of course, money will play a big part in the decisions to come.
Pederson has been improving since his tough 2017 season and he could take some more leaps in 2020. If the Dodgers think he could make more improvements then they should strongly consider making Pederson a multi-year offer. They also need to decide how much room they want to leave for prospects or free agents for the outfield. Any big salaries means they are self-limited from spending on someone else.
Continue this conversation! Where do you think Joc will be 12 months from today?