With the Toronto Blue Jays lacking firepower in the outfield, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson could help bolster a weaker area on the roster.
Heading into the 2020 season, the Toronto Blue Jays outfield was most likely going to consist of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, and Randal Grichuk. While this may not be the weakest outfield in the MLB, there are some areas that could be improved upon.
Gurriel Jr., did well in left field last season and does deserve another shot to fully take over the position moving forward. Grichuk also had a predominantly strong year in CF/RF, which is why the Blue Jays gave him a 5 year, $52 million dollar contract after one season in Toronto. While Grichuk did see some success last year, he was better when he was playing in center field.
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Hernandez did belt 26 home runs last season, but was very inconsistent at the plate and did see some time down in the minor leagues around mid-May last season. Hernandez was also weak in the outfield defensively, accumulating -23 defensive runs saved (DRS) over the past two seasons.
This past off-season, the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for superstar right fielder Mookie Betts and now possess a crowded outfield full of talented players and prospects. To make it even more interesting, Joc Pederson was traded to the Los Angeles Angels around the same time as the Betts trade, but the deal eventually fell through.
This means that the Dodgers are most likely still inclined to move Pederson, but if the Blue Jays are wise, they may wait until the off-season to make their move for the left-hander.
Last season Pederson had a solid campaign, hitting for a .249/.339/.538 slash line with 36 home runs, 74 RBI’s, and 50 walks. His DRS is best when he played in LF (10 DRS), but he does have experience in all three different outfield positions and would still be a defensive upgrade over Hernandez if he was to slot into CF.
Ideally, if Pederson joined the Blue Jays, he would slot into either LF or RF, and push either Gurriel Jr. into a utility role/infielder or push Grichuk to CF, where he has the best DRS out of all four of the mentioned outfielders (13).
A trade centered around a few different prospects may be able to pry Pederson away, something the Blue Jays do have some stock in at a variety of different positions like starting pitchers and/or catchers. With Pederson becoming a free agent in 2021, the ask for Pederson’s services should not require a significant dip into the prospect pool to get him wearing the Blue Jays uniform this season if management wants his services now (and possibly resign him in the off-season).
I would prefer the Blue Jays wait until the 2020/2021 off-season, where Pederson will become a free agent for the first time in his career. This is also combined with the fact the Blue Jays will most likely play a condensed schedule with the COVID-19 virus delaying major sports across the globe.
While there will most likely be a bit of a line for his services when free agency rolls around, the Blue Jays management team will have to weigh the risk/reward over whether they think they possess the ability to persuade Pederson to play North of the border.
If they succeed, they gain a talented young outfielder who cost them nothing but salary cap space while keeping the prospect pool intact. If they fail, they at least keep their prospects within the system.
In the end, the Toronto Blue Jays would statically be a better team with Pederson in the lineup. While the team may be wise to wait until the off-season to go after him, the Blue Jays do at least have some cap room to play with if they get into a small bidding war for his services.