First reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Pederson has agreed to a one-year contract with the Cubs, with ESPN‘s Jeff Passan reporting the Cubs are going to give the noted destroyer of right-handed pitching an opportunity to play every day.
Cubs rumors: One-year plus option for Joc Pederson?
Passan additionally reported the contract agreed to between the Cubs and Pederson is a one-year, $7 million pact, with Joel Sherman of the New York Post reporting there is also a mutual option for 2022 included.
It’s likely Pederson can slot into the left field position left vacant when the club non-tendered Kyle Schwarber. While their career numbers are very similar, it’s worth noting that Pederson played half his games at pitcher’s haven Dodger Stadium, while Schwarber was in the (hitter) friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
Last season, Pederson hit just .190 with a .681 OPS in 43 games and 138 plate appearances for the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, adding seven home runs, 16 RBI and 21 runs scored. He struck out 34 times and drew 11 walks.
Pederson has been primarily a platoon player since his All-Star rookie season of 2015, when he got 585 plate appearances, hitting .210 with a .763 OPS to go with 19 doubles, 26 homers, 54 RBI and 67 runs scored.
He hasn’t made more than 514 plate appearances in a season since, with that coming in 2019. That season, Pederson had career-highs with a .249 average, .876 OPS, 36 home runs and 74 RBI.
But it’s the splits that make the potential every-day role a gamble for the Cubs. Against right-handed pitching, Peterson has hit .238 with an OPS of .849 in his career, covering 2,132 plate appearances. Against left-handers? How about .191 with a .576 OPS in 385 trips.
The Cubs have gotten more active in recent days, albeit with minor free-agent signings. They brought in veteran catcher Austin Romine and right-hander Kohl Stewart on small, one-year deals.
But they also traded veteran right-hander Yu Darvish and catcher Victor Caratini to the San Diego Padres in late December, getting back just one major-league player in the deal, right-hander Zach Davies, while acquiring a trio of prospects in Owen Caissie, Ismael Mena and Reginald Preciado.
Preciado, a shortstop, now ranks 10th in the Cubs organization according to MLB Pipeline. But he’s also projected to be three years away. Caissie, an outfielder, is 11th in the farm system and is also not projected to make the bigs until 2024. Mena, also an outfielder, is ranked 18th in the system and is on the same timeline.
Pederson has been a solid postseason performer, hitting .272 in 170 career plate appearances with nine home runs and 20 RBI. In the 2020 World Series run, Peterson hit a robust .382 with a .991 OPS in 16 games and 37 plate appearances, cracking two home runs and driving in eight runs.
Pederson will be 29 in late April and one has to wonder how much improvement he can make against left-handers, but he does give Chicago an option for both corner outfield spots and one that, at least in the past, has been a regular in center field.