We’re still waiting for the Mookie Betts–David Price deal to become official, but we know the Joc Pederson–Ross Stripling trade to the Angels is officially off. That’s good, because it never really made sense in the first place. However, there’s a decent chance Pederson is still moved sometime this week.
The Betts trade is being held up for two reasons:
- MLB needs to approve the amount of money going from Boston to LA
- The Dodgers would have 42 players on their 40-man roster if the trade were allowed to go through right now
The first one is impacted by the second, so that makes sense. They could just designate a couple players for assignment, but the Dodgers’ 40-man is so deep that might just be giving a couple players away for free. They could try instead to move a couple of them in a trade, but none are as attractive as Pederson would be on the trade market. While I don’t especially want the Dodgers to trade Pederson, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that they will — not only to save money but to clear a roster spot.
It’s a bit of an awkward situation after the results of Pederson’s arbitration hearing. He lost his case against the Dodgers (or Angels … it was a real clusterfuck that probably should have been delayed) and will make $7.75 million this season, as opposed to the $9 million he asked for. At either price, there would be (at least) a handful of teams that would have interest in him. Let’s look at a some of them here.
Yes, the Angels could still revisit this, but my suspicion is that they were more interested in Stripling as opposed to Pederson, seeing as they have Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani in three of the four OF/DH spots. He would limit their positional flexibility. But if the Dodgers are really as high on Luis Rengifo as we are led to believe, perhaps there’s a way to make this one work — and acquiring Rengifo would likely mean an additional 40-man roster move.
Toronto’s current outfield alignment is Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in LF, Randal Grichuk in CF and Derek Fisher in RF. They also have Anthony Alford, Jonathan Davis, Brandon Drury, Teoscar Hernandez and Billy McKinney as outfield options. That’s … not terribly impressive. While the Jays probably aren’t going to contend, adding Pederson would be a massive upgrade over all those players. And when July 31 comes around and the Jays aren’t in it, they could capitalize and deal Pederson to a team looking for some offense. Maybe a low-level prospect or two — Leo Hernandez, Otto Lopez, Will Robertson, Forrest Wall — could interest the Dodgers.
St. Louis lost Marcell Ozuna in free agency and traded Randy Arozarena and Jose Martinez (not much of an outfielder, honestly) to the Rays to get Matthew Liberatore. That leaves Tommy Edman as their starting left fielder, which, oof. Yes, they have Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas on the bench, as well as Austin Dean and Justin Williams on the 40-man, but Pederson would represent a nice upgrade over all them (a platoon with O’Neill would be interesting). They also have Dylan Carlson, their top prospect, who will be in St. Louis sooner rather than later, but for a team that went to the NLCS last year, they haven’t done much to add to that roster. A few low-level guys who could interest LA include Mateo Gil, Andre Pallante, Griffin Roberts and Patrick Romeri.
This is probably the best and easiest fit. Cleveland needs outfielders who can hit. Pederson is an outfielder who can hit. He’d fit in great in right field over Greg Allen. Their other 40-man roster outfielders include Jake Bauers, Delino DeShields, Daniel Johnson, Jordan Luplow, Oscar Mercado, Franmil Reyes (best as a DH), Andrew Velazquez and Bradley Zimmer. Outside of Mercado, it’s an uninspiring group. I’d love to see the Dodgers snag Daniel Espino, but that probably won’t happen. Other guys I’d be interested in include Will Benson, Aaron Bracho, Raymond Burgos, and Ethan Hankins.
Ughhhhh. It sucks, but the fit is there, even after they signed Hunter Pence over the weekend. I tried to send Pederson to SF last winter for Will Smith in my offseason plan, but that obviously didn’t happen. Still, a year of Pederson would improve an outfield that currently includes Alex Dickerson, Steven Duggar, and Mike Yastrzemski, with the aforementioned Pence and Austin Slater on the bench. The other outfielders on the 40-man include Jaylin Davis, Joe McCarthy and Chris Shaw (drafted as a first baseman). So, you can see how Pederson would be an upgrade. And like with the Jays, they could probably deal Pederson at the deadline to a team looking for some left-handed sock. Some low-level guys who would make sense for LA include Tristan Beck, Prelander Berroa, Ricardo Genoves and Trevor McDonald.
Like I said, I don’t want Pederson to be dealt. He would form a great platoon with A.J. Pollock in left field. At the same time (to use a cliche), you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. He probably isn’t in their post-2020 plans, so if they trade him for salary relief (who cares) and to free up his roster spot, that wouldn’t be the craziest thing.
We’ll see what happens, but I’d be pretty surprised if Pederson began the 2020 season in Dodger blue.