Joc Pederson has the magic touch of late. The 29-year-old outfielder just won the World Series with the Atlanta Braves after winning the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020. Now he finds himself a free agent for a second consecutive offseason.
Pederson is a power threat from the left side. He can play all three outfield positions with an emphasis on left and center field while also having brief starting experience at first base. Power and defensive versatility is what a team is signing up for in Pederson.
Here are three ideal free agent destinations for Joc Pederson.
3) Joc Pederson gives the New York Yankees versatility
The Yankees are in an offseason holding pattern, and that’s not just because the sport is in a lockout. They’ve been deadly silent on the free agent market outside of a couple minor re-signings and have questions all over their infield. Pederson can make an impact for the Yankees in a variety of roles.
As it concerns first base, chances are Pederson wouldn’t be the everyday player at the position. That said, his ability to play the position gives them depth as Anthony Rizzo remains on the open market and Luke Voit was essentially phased out of the rotation last season.
Pederson would be a fourth outfielder for the Yankees and potentially part of a legitimate four-man outfield rotation, as the team’s presumed left and center fielders (Joey Gallo and Aaron Hicks) are inconsistent at the plate. In Hicks’ case, he’s returning from a season-ending wrist injury.
- Joc Pederson stats (2021): .238/.310/.422, 18 home runs and 61 RBIs across 429 at-bats
One way or another, manager Aaron Boone needs outfield depth. At the plate, Pederson gives New York another considerable power threat from the left side who would add more balance to their combination of left and right-handed hitters.
All that being said, the Yankees may refrain from signing Pederson considering that he strikes out a lot (New York’s outfielders have been prone to strikeouts) and subsequently look to fill out their outfield from the inside.
2) Joc Pederson re-signs with the Atlanta Braves
The Braves traded for five hitters at the MLB trade deadline. Many of those pickups, including Pederson, played a vital role in their run to the World Series. It makes sense for Atlanta to keep Pederson.
For starters, Ronald Acuna Jr. is recovering from a torn ACL, making his return date an unknown. In all likelihood, the Braves are without their star outfielder for at least the first two months of the 2022 regular season. They’re going to need capable starters and viable depth as Acuna recovers. Pederson helps them in that regard.
With Marcell Ozuna likely back in left field, manager Brian Snitker can deploy Pederson in either center or right with Adam Duvall or Cristian Pache holding down the other outfield position. By the way, Freddie Freeman is unsigned. In the scenario that Freeman and the Braves can’t reach a deal, Pederson could be the team’s temporary first baseman. They would at least have that option in the doomsday scenario that Freeman leaves.
- Joc Pederson contract prediction: two-year, $18 million deal
The NL East will be better in 2022, as the New York Mets had a historic offseason headlined by signing Max Scherzer and the Miami Marlins have been active themselves. Atlanta will have competition for the NL East and therefore needs as much offensive depth as possible.
The factor that could prevent Pederson from staying in Atlanta, however, is the Braves deciding they have enough veteran outfielders and choosing to let Pache and Drew Waters get starting experience.
1) Joc Pederson to the San Diego Padres
The Padres need help in the outfield, and Pederson checks a lot of boxes for a contending team, which they aspire to be in 2022.
San Diego’s outfield combination of Tommy Pham, Trent Grisham and Wil Myers left much to be desired last season. While the trio of outfielders are respectable defenders who were serviceable at the plate, their collective offensive outputs made outfield play the weakness of the Padres’ depth chart. Pederson doesn’t cure their outfield by himself, but he does give them another option and someone who dabbles at multiple positions.
Pederson could begin the year as the Padres’ starting left fielder or fourth outfielder depending on whether they add another outfielder. All the while, Pederson can backup Eric Hosmer at first base, making the Padres three-deep at the position (Hosmer, Pederson and Jake Cronenworth).
San Diego was surprisingly middle-of-the-pack offensively in 2021. They have a prosperous lineup that needs veteran complements who can play a role in a bounce-back season. Pederson fits that description and adds more power to a group that was just 23rd in MLB in home runs last season (180).
Pederson gives manager Bob Melvin another hitter who’s accustomed to high-leverage situations.