Jan. 21: The Braves have also “checked on” a trade involving Pederson, tweets Jon Heyman of Fancred. It’s still not clear how many teams have been in contact with L.A., nor is it clear whether there’s any momentum surrounding a potential Pederson deal. However, the connection with Atlanta is only logical. The Braves have an obvious corner-outfield vacancy at the moment, and Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos spent the 2016-17 seasons as the Dodgers’ vice president of baseball operations before accepting his current position.
Jan. 20: The Dodgers are discussing outfielder Joc Pederson in potential deals, and the White Sox are among the teams they’re talking to, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. It’s unclear, though, whether the two sides are making progress in those conversations.
Speculatively, trading Pederson could further open up room in LA for free-agent center fielder A.J. Pollock, whom the team is pursuing. And essentially swapping the lefty-swinging Pederson for the right-handed Pollock would enable the Dodgers’ lineup to become more balanced, which is reportedly among their offseason objectives. At the same time, though, waving goodbye to Pederson would mean losing a productive, affordable player who’s under arbitration control through the 2020 season. He’ll earn a reasonable $5MM this year after avoiding arbitration earlier this month.
While the 26-year-old Pederson has never been effective versus left-handed pitchers, who have held him to a woeful .181/.266/.317 line since he debuted in 2014, it has been a different story against righties. Most recently, Pederson posted an overall .248/.321/.522 line (126 wRC+) in 2018 with 25 home runs and 2.7 fWAR over 443 plate appearances. Despite his limitations against same-handed hurlers, Pederson has approached or exceeded 3.0 fWAR in three of the past four seasons. That type of production would be welcome in Chicago, whose outfield ranked dead last in fWAR (minus-1.2) in 2018. The unit has since lost one of its regulars, now-Ray Avisail Garcia, who was merely a replacement-level player last season, though it did add Jon Jay in free agency. Jay had a subpar 2018 in his own right, however, and hasn’t offered particularly strong production over the past few years.
Jay’s now part of a group which also includes Daniel Palka, Adam Engel and Leury Garcia, though all three of those outfielders registered underwhelming results last year. Fortunately for the White Sox, they do have a premier outfield prospect in Eloy Jimenez, whom they figure to promote early in the season and who could make a significant impact from the get-go. But Jimenez’s presence isn’t going to prevent the White Sox from trying to upgrade elsewhere in the grass, evidenced by their interest in Pederson and their pursuit of free-agent standout Bryce Harper.