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Now is the Time to Trade Joc Pederson

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 02: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers flies out against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 2, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Dodgers won 3-2. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

One of the toughest parts about baseball is getting attached to players. These heroes we get to see on television and in our communities every day can suddenly vanish. In an instant, they could pop up on your feed donning a new uniform as soon as the next game. We saw that with the first Matt Kemp trade, and most recently with Yasiel Puig. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why fans would not be receptive to a Joc Pederson trade.

From the moment he showed up at the big league level, Dodgers fans have loved Joc. He made his debut in late 2014, but really showed what the hype was about the following season. He crushed 26 home runs across 151 games, which is still his career-high. The issue though is that his power came with plenty of flaws. Pederson struck out 170 times in 2015 en route to a below mediocre 210/346/417 slash line. And while he has cut down on his strikeouts since then, Pederson continues to prove that he is meant for a platoon role.

Joc has slashed a low but encouraging 239/355/487 against right-handers in his career. He has also hit 78 of 87 home runs coming from that side. Against left-handed pitching has been an entirely different narrative. Pederson has hit an awful 181/266/317 against southpaws throughout the course of his career. His strikeout rate against lefties is an abysmal 29% when he gets a chance to hit against them. Compare that to his 24% K rate against righties and you have a potential platoon candidate.

Why Trade Him Now?

Fans will naturally ask, if Pederson is so clearly a platoon type player then why trade him now? The easiest answer to that is he is coming off of one of his better seasons just two years ahead of free agency. Pederson got his strikeout rate down below 20 percent for the first time in his career in 2018. He also hit for a career-high in terms of batting average. He managed to put together a 2.3 WAR season despite a reduced role the past two years.

A few of his peripheral stats appeared to be a source of encouragement for interesting teams as well. Pederson’s wOBA(354) and wRC+(126) both reached near or above his career-highs, suggesting he had a better season than I had originally thought.

Another reason to get the deal done now it that Los Angeles has put itself in a weird position with their lineup. The team has mostly left-handed hitters around the lineup with a  projected six players on the 25-man roster as it stands today. If the Dodgers are indeed serious about Alex Verdugo earning an everyday spot, that means Pederson will likely be on his way out.

The Return For Pederson

Unfortunately, the return for Joc Pederson may not be as high as any fan would like. Los Angeles is not looking for a major league ready player to take over his roster spot, but rather a small package of prospects to make the deal worthwhile.

This deal likely opens the door for Los Angeles to make an official offer to AJ Pollock, thus adding another right-handed bat. It would also clear up $5 million of salary obligations, for whatever that is worth. Does it mean Bryce Harper is a lock? Not at all, but it does create a ton of flexibility with Los Angeles’ plans.

Potential Replacements

AJ Pollock, or a combination of Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo all appear to be leading candidates for the replacement of Pederson should he be traded.

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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    • I’m not sure I’m interested in seeing the THIRD 25 HR outfielder depart this roster, without any discernible return. I knew Kemp had to go, and it seemed like Puig had about worn out his welcome, but Pederson is under club control for 2 more years, so why give him away for a middling package of prospects? If the return is minimal, then hang on to him, through at least spring training. I know Toles is waiting in the wings, but Toles hasn’t produced over full seasons the way Pederson has to this point. Joc isn’t a star, but he has a role on this team, and I don’t want to see him go.

  1. Replacing Pederson with Pollock would be a net loss for Dodgers at a significantly higher cost; simply doesn’t make sense. On the other hand, platooning Pederson with Kiké Hernandez in LF would provide All Star caliber run production in LF. I have no problem trading Pederson, but the return should be for equal, present value, or a couple of legit ML prospects. Forget Pollock and Marte, neither player is a difference maker. If Dodgers acquire a couple of prospects to flip in a trade for Realmuto, or replace Dodgers prospects use to acquire the All Star catcher, then that is a good trade off. Or, if Pederson can be the centerpiece of a trade for a legit, RH bat like Castellanos then make the deal. Otherwise, keep Joc — last season could have been the breakthrough year of his career and he will continue to get better and be another Paul Konerko type trade that turns out very badly for Dodgers.

    • As long as he continues to be a platoon player, he will never be a Paul Konerko type of player. Pederson cannot hit left-handed pitching, and he has no place being in a game when one is on the mound. A career 181 hitter off of southpaws will not survive this day in age. Especially considering he isn’t THAT much better against RHP in his career.

        • A career 235 hitter in the postseason is not exactly what I would call playing “well” , especially in the NLCS and WS. Only a .217 hitter in those high leverage games and struck out a ridiculous 36% of the time

          • Because off the inconsistency in the offense the rest of this team didn’t fair well in the WS either… Last I checked, several Dodgers had trouble putting the ball in play during PS

      • I did not say that Pederson was a Konerko type player, I wrote that it could turn out like a Konerko type trade; e.g., where the Dodgers did not get as much value as they traded. Forget BA, the stat to watch is OPS and Pederson lifetime against RH pitchers has a .842 OPS, and last season it was .893! It isn’t just the Dodgers that are turning to platooning, other teams also see value in using multiple players in various roles.

        • OPS value is too volatile to really understand where Pederson stands. He has never eclipsed and OPS+ of 126 or w wRC+ of 128. Even his isolated power measurements throughout his career tells you that he probably won’t ever go beyond the level he reached in 2018(which was a big step for him). You need to get the most value out of him that you can now before he becomes and unnecessarily expensive platoon player. Thats his only role moving forward for the remainder of his career. You are right though when you say that we need to get the most value that we can for a trade. He cannot be undersold, but one way or another now is the time.

      • Brook, and as it stands now Dodgers will see tons of LHP based upon the number of LH bats already here besides Joc. that is why I hope but cannot see both Verdugo and Toles in the OF at one time. if we continue to be this LH hitter heavy, look for platooning to be the norm all over again.

          • As long as Dodgers can somehow balance the lineup with an impact RH bat, then OK. Only thing to consider is that the LHP in the minors is not on par with what is seen in MLB.. However, we do know those guys who are or will be platooned as a result of not handling LHP.

          • No disrespect intended BUT…”I expect Verdugo in the lineup everyday as it stands”….Did you watch the Dodgers the last two years? No way that’s going to happen……..Dave Roberts platoon magic will not allow it to happen…….the only player you can count on seeing “everyday” is JT and next year maybe Seager.

    • I agree! Im not one for the go big or go home effort approach in the batters box. Give me the quiet approach guys who are looking to get on or consistently put the ball in play.

  2. I agree with SoCalBum, as usual, if you can get a decent return for him then do so as it is a good time to move Joc. I do not like the idea of adding Pollock as he has the typical inflated numbers of an AZ or Coors Field player not to mention he is an IR List waiting to happen.
    Castellanos would be a great fit if they can use Joc as a centerpiece otherwise I would stand pat and keep the money they have under the cap to see how the team, prospects and the beginning of the year pans out. Some Free Agents like last year may take bargain 1 year contracts as Spring rushes in.

  3. The front office’s roster management at this point could most charitably be described as puzzling and at worst dumb, overloading themselves with players who can’t hit LHP. Signing the oft-injured Pollock or trading for the mediocre Marte smell like desperation to get a right handed bat. Castellanos can hit but is an awful defender. I agree about trading Pederson, depending on who comes over in return. If they can’t do better than the Reds trade, keep him. What do you think about Muncy as trade bait? My guess is he never has another season to match the one he had last year.

  4. Call me sentimental but I do hope Joc remains with the club. As the article states, we all remember Joc coming to the club and his struggles at bat. He has worked hard and I appreciate that. However, we do need that right-handed bat, though I must say almost all of the names mentioned in the various articles have drawbacks : lack of power, injuries, toxicity in the clubhouse, the use of PED’s. As PaulDodgerFan1965 correctly states, I cannot see Toles and Verdugo in the same outfield at the same time. Friedman needs to think this through. Go Blue!!!!

    • I 100% agree that there is a certain level of sentimental attachment to him, I think that can be said of a lot of guys. We get attached to these players we see everyday and it’s tough to realize that at the end of the day, baseball is still a business. Whatever is best for the team is what I want, even if it hurts.

      • One thing that is also true as a result of this business side, and that is one may probably never see a player remain with just the team that originally signed him for his entire career.

    • Concur here too, BLUE LOU! And so does PD Jr. It will be interesting to see if or how Dodgers go about replacing the RH hitting it traded away to the Reds. Now granted, Puig was horrific against LHP and also, he and Kemp will be FA’s after 2019.

  5. Brock Stewart, Chris Taylor, Kike Hernandez…. names of players that I believe we should have already sold high on, now are stuck with us, hoping they can break through and prove they weren’t one hit wonders… I didn’t initially lump Joc Pederson in with these guys cus at the time of his arrival, I fell in love with the guy projected to hit 40+ home runs in his rookie year, then he got cheated in the HR Derby, and was never the same. We need to sell high on Joc Pederson, AND Max Muncy, before they become more baggage we drag along hoping they can catch fire.

  6. Are you saying we should give up a young player who’s numbers are improving, for an older player who’s numbers and career are in decline? Please explain.

  7. Dodgers must win Championship this season coming up, or it will be considered a failure. Trying 2 bargin your way with players will not accomplish the goal of winning it all. We need Joc and I really think he’s only going to get better. What they need to do is find a better 2nd basemen because Kike Hernandez is a liability on offense.

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