Once an everyday center fielder and top prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Joc Pederson has been relegated to playing all three outfield positions as a platoon player over recent seasons.
Despite seeing a change in his role and not making the list of top 10 left fielders as assembled by ESPN’s Buster Olney, Pederson was named among his six “best of the rest” candidates.
Pederson was joined by Eloy Jimenez of the Chicago White Sox, Boston’s Andrew Benintendi, Milwaukee’s Avisail Garcia, Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds and Tampa Bay’s Hunter Renfroe.
Olney ranked Washington Nationals phenom Juan Soto as the top left fielder heading into the 2020 season. Olney amassed his list by soliciting the opinions of evaluators and others around baseball.
Even with his opportunities largely limited to facing right-handed pitching, Pederson appeared in 149 games last season. He batted .249/.339/.538 with 16 doubles, 36 home runs, 83 runs scored and 74 RBI.
His batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, runs scored and RBI all represented the best marks of his young career. Pederson additionally broke his own Dodgers franchise record with nine leadoff home runs — one year after setting the mark with eight.
He saw minimal time in center field, but was a steady presence in both corners. The Dodgers experimented with Pederson at first base, but he encountered struggles and it was eventually scrapped.
Coming off another productive season and in salary arbitration for a third and final time, Pederson and the Dodgers failed to agree to terms by Friday’s deadline. L.A. also faces potential arbitration hearings in February with Pedro Baez, Max Muncy and Chris Taylor.
It’s plausible the Dodgers and Pederson will avoid a hearing, though the team has historically stuck to a file-and-trial approach. The franchise’s last arbitration hearing was with Joe Beimel in 2007.
Of course, it’s also possible Pederson won’t begin the 2020 season with the Dodgers anyhow. He again was mentioned in trade speculation, but that has cooled in recent weeks.
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