Age: 4/21/92 (26)
Traditional Stats: .248/.321/.522, 27 2B, 3 3B, 25 HR, 56 RBI, SB, 5 CS
Advanced Stats: 2.3 bWAR, 2.7 fWAR, 125 OPS+, 126 wRC+
Defensive Stats: LF (4 DRS, 3.0 UZR), CF (-3 DRS, -2.9 UZR), RF (0 DRS, 0.0 UZR)
2019 Salary: $5 million
Free Agent: 2021
With the Dodgers not willing to go back over the luxury tax, they are trying to find creative ways to help improve the team. One of the ways they are looking to do that is to move Pederson is a trade to permit the team to add a right-handed hitting outfielder to their roster. Doing so would likely prevent the Dodgers from having to start Enrique Hernandez in a World Series elimination game, or at least that’s the hope.
With Pederson, the Dodgers have an interesting player to move to try to improve their roster.
While Pederson is someone who can play center, he has shown he is better suited to playing the corner outfield spots, specifically left field. Part of the reason for that is his speed. According to Baseball Savant, Pederson is only a hair faster than Matt Kemp, a player whom many teams have long admitted should not be trusted to even play a corner outfield position everyday.
The thing with Pederson is he’s not quite an everyday player. Pederson is a career .239/.355/.487 hitter against right-handed pitching, but just a .181/.266/.317 hitter against left-handed pitching. Those numbers bore out last year when he hit .260/.338/.556 hitter against right-handed pitching and .170/.211/.302 against left-handed pitching.
One thing that is interesting with Pederson is how he set a career high with a .248 batting average. There are two reasons for that. First, his at-bats against left-handed pitchers were limited. Perhaps more importantly, Pederson made a higher rate of contact. After striking out in 26.7 percent of his plate appearances entering the 2018 season, he would only strike out 19.2 percent of the time. The downside of that is his already suspect walk rate dropped.
The numbers beyond that were promising. Pederson set a career high in fly ball rate, and he set a career high in hard hit rate. Moreover, Pederson used more of the field with a career low in pull rate. All in all, these were positive signs for a player who is about to enter his prime.
Why The Mets Should Obtain Him
Right now, the Mets are planning on going with Keon Broxton and Juan Lagares in center field. Lagares is someone who has not played over 94 games since 2015, and Broxton has hit .213/.296/.419 over the past two seasons. Put another way, the Mets current center fielders are wholly unreliable. That’s troubling for a team who is not just a win-now team, but also a team who is purportedly out on adding another outfielder. It should be noted the latter was in reference to adding a player the ilk of Bryce Harper or A.J. Pollock.
If you break things down, the Mets need another outfielder, and preferably one who can at least handle center field. Adding Pederson would allow the team to platoon Lagares/Broxton with him. With Pederson providing good defense in the corners, he could enter games with Lagares to provide good outfield defense. More than that, with him entering his prime, he may be primed to take the next step forward.
Keep in mind that when looking at Pederson, he is a career .212/.317/.358 hitter at Dodger Stadium and a .243/.359/.455 hitter on the road. Put another way, Pederson may be a player who will take off once he gets away from the difficult Dodger Stadium hitting environment.
As an aside, it was a fun ride the last time the Mets obtained a former Dodger play who wore number 31.
Why The Mets Should Not Obtain Him
Mostly, it is difficult to see how exactly the Mets could obtain Pederson at a reasonable price. Pederson’s $5 million price tag is low for his production, and partially because of that, there are a number of teams interested. Right now, the White Sox and the Braves are rumored to be interested, and both of those teams have more to offer than the Mets do. Accordingly, the Mets would likely have to make an offer over and above what is reasonable for Pederson’s production.
The Mets should pursue Pederson because he compliments the roster well. He’s a power hitting outfielder who can play center. He is a good platoon partner with Lagares or Broxton, and he has a reasonable $5 million salary. He’s entering his prime, and he’s been making progress in terms of contact. This is the type of player which would really help the Mets, but only if they can obtain him at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, that’s not likely.