Last Thursday, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen checked off another item on his Spring Training shopping list when Buster Olney reported that Hazen signed lefty outfielder Joc Pederson.
The details of the deal emerged later: Pederson would earn $9.5 million in 2024 with a $3 million buyout on a 2025 mutual option worth $14 million.
On January 30, the D-backs made the move official:
In signing Pederson, 32, the D-backs get a veteran presence with a history of hitting for power even though he’s coming off a slightly down 2023.
Since debuting in 2014, Pederson has hit 186 home runs during stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, and, most recently, San Francisco Giants. In addition, he has a career slash line of .237/.336/.464 (116 OPS+).
According to Inside the Diamondbacks, Hazen said of the signing:
“Bringing Lourdes back and Eugenio filling in the right-handed [bats], the middle part of the our lineup was getting very right-handed. He does an incredible job of hitting righties. It felt like the division was going to stack up pretty right-handed dominant, we felt like this was going to be a good fit. Keep Corbin [Carroll] and Ketel [Marte] where they need to be, keep Alek [Thomas] and [Geraldo] Perdomo where they need to be. It was just a good fit for us.”
Some D-backs fans generally expressed disappointment in the news given that they’d hoped for a JD Martinez reunion, but Pederson will be a familiar presence given his time with the Los Dodgers and Giants.
Over his career, he’s appeared in 56 games at Chase Field with 193 plate appearances. In those appearances, he’s slashed .214/.306/.441 with an OPS+ of 86, so not awesome. Of his 36 hits, nine were home runs, and nine were doubles.
Here he is taking Zac Gallen deep at Chase Field last year:
Still, the D-backs are surely counting on his ability to smash righties. (He’s got a 108 OPS+ against RHP and a dismal 58 OPS+ when facing LHP.) Plus, working with hitting coach Joe Mather may help Pederson address that part of his game.
Moreover, he provides the kind of veteran presence the D-backs said they were looking for in a DH/OF, and his presence on two World Series teams will provide a model for younger players. (Incidentally, Pederson is only the ninth player to appear in back-to-back World Series with different teams.)
In 2023, the D-backs were below league average when it came to offensive output from the DH position. They are looking to Pederson to strengthen this part of their lineup.
Pederson’s defense is not stellar (a career DRS of -29), but he could spend some innings in the outfield should the D-backs need a short-term replacement.
The D-backs, as Pederson told the media on Tuesday, are a great fit and an exciting team:
“I think it’s a really great fit for me and my family. They came off such a historic year, it’s a young group of guys that are hungry, that play the game the right way. The coaching staff seems incredible, that maintains a standard throughout the whole 162,” said Pederson, “I’m really excited to be a part, and try to help out in any way that I can with a lot of their young talent.”
There’s also an irony factor at work here that doesn’t affect Pederson’s on-field game but seems important to point out given that Pederson will be taking the place of former Arizona Diamondback OF/DH Tommy Pham. Perhaps you’ll recall their public dust up, which involved a disagreement over fantasy football. (Watch Pederson’s explanation here.)
On the style front, Pederson has retired his signature pearl necklace from his Atlanta days.
But the D-backs are more interested in his swing than his swag, and they surely hope he’ll help their young team get over the final hurdle to win the World Series. In signing Pederson, in addition to bringing back Lourdes Gurriel Jr., trading for Eugenio Suárez, and signing Eduardo Rodriguez, the D-backs have shown their intention to contend in 2024.