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Joc Pederson 2018 salary arbitration preview

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2017 Major League Baseball World Series Game Six: Houston Astros v. Los Angeles Dodgers

Joc Pederson is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time this offseason, due a raise after making $550,000 in 2017, pro-rated for his time in the majors.

Pederson has always been a streaky season, and last year saw both extremes of that. After an injury-prone first third of the season Pederson hit .267/.384/.586 with nine home runs in the middle third of the season, then things went terribly south. A 2-for-41 slump landed Pederson in Triple-A for nearly three weeks, but he recovered in time to bash three home runs in the World Series, during which he had an extra-base hit in five straight games.

With three years, 23 days of service time, Pederson has a decent number of comparable outfielders in recent years. Here are their career numbers through three years:

Pederson comparable outfielders (career)

Players Years Service PA HR BA/OBP/SLG OPS+ wOBA wRC+ rWAR fWAR Salary
Players Years Service PA HR BA/OBP/SLG OPS+ wOBA wRC+ rWAR fWAR Salary
Joc Pederson 2014-17 3.023 1,422 62 .222/.345/.435 112 0.338 115 5.3 7.1 TBD
Leonys Martin 2011-15 3.063 1,461 20 .255/.305/.361 82 0.294 80 9.1 6.7 $4,150,000
Marcell Ozuna 2013-16 3.124 2,005 59 .265/.314/.427 103 0.322 104 8.0 9.4 $3,500,000
Charlie Blackmon 2011-15 3.102 1,811 45 .288/.336/.437 99 0.337 97 4.8 5.0 $3,500,000
Desmond Jennings 2010-14 3.101 2,018 47 .248/.327/.401 105 0.322 107 11.8 12.0 $3,100,000
Corey Dickerson 2013-16 3.101 1,473 63 .279/.326/.510 118 0.355 116 6.1 5.2 $3,025,000
Avisail Garcia* 2012-16 3.167 1,551 39 .258/.310/.385 92 0.304 90 0.1 -1.2 $3,000,000
Lorenzo Cain 2010-14 3.074 1,369 17 .279/.326/.392 97 0.316 97 12.4 10.4 $2,725,000
Billy Hamilton 2013-16 3.028 1,547 13 .248/.297/.334 73 0.280 73 7.0 9.4 $2,625,000
Domonic Brown 2010-14 3.078 1,544 49 .248/.308/.412 97 0.313 97 -0.6 -1.1 $2,600,000
*Super Two Thanks as always to MLB Trade Rumors, Cot’s Baseball Contracts & Baseball-Reference

The group is a mixed bag of different styles. Leonys Martin, Lorenzo Cain and Billy Hamilton all earned tremendous value from their defense. Desmond Jennings might have been the best of the group through three years but quickly declined.

In December 2015 a pair of center fielders with similar service time to Pederson signed five-year, $30.5 million deals, with Odubel Herrera inking a deal with the Phillies and Ender Inciarte with the Phillies. It looked like a potential rubric for a Pederson extension, but then Pederson had a down year, registering negative WAR using the Baseball-Reference version and just 0.6 WAR by FanGraphs’ valuation.

Let’s see how Pederson’s 2017 stacks up with other launch years of these comprable outfielders:

Pederson comparable outfielders (single season)

Players Year Service PA HR BA/OBP/SLG OPS+ wOBA wRC+ rWAR fWAR Salary
Players Year Service PA HR BA/OBP/SLG OPS+ wOBA wRC+ rWAR fWAR Salary
Joc Pederson 2017 3.023 323 11 .212/.331/.407 95 0.322 100 -0.4 0.6 TBD
Leonys Martin 2015 3.063 310 5 .219/.264/.313 55 0.254 52 1.1 0.5 $4,150,000
Marcell Ozuna 2016 3.124 608 23 .266/.321/.452 110 0.330 106 2.5 2.5 $3,500,000
Charlie Blackmon 2015 3.102 682 17 .287/.347/.450 102 0.345 103 2.4 2.3 $3,500,000
Desmond Jennings 2014 3.101 542 10 .244/.319/.378 100 0.313 102 3.2 3.2 $3,100,000
Corey Dickerson 2016 3.101 548 24 .245/.293/.469 106 0.319 101 1.5 1.5 $3,025,000
Avisail Garcia* 2016 3.167 453 12 .245/.307/.385 89 0.302 88 0.8 0.6 $3,000,000
Lorenzo Cain 2014 3.074 502 5 .301/.339/.412 109 0.330 109 5.1 4.8 $2,725,000
Billy Hamilton 2016 3.028 460 3 .260/.321/.343 77 0.294 79 2.8 3.1 $2,625,000
Domonic Brown 2014 3.078 512 10 .235/.285/.349 77 0.280 76 -1.4 -1.6 $2,600,000
*Super Two Thanks as always to MLB Trade Rumors, Cot’s Baseball Contracts & Baseball-Reference

Yes, Pederson had a bad 2017 but so did Avisail Garcia in 2016, and he got $3 million from the White Sox, though he was a Super Two the year before which inflates his value just a bit.

Just about everyone on the list had better launch years than Pederson, and all but Martin had significantly better bulk numbers and playing time. At the very least Pederson is better both in his launch year and in career production than Domonic Brown, who got $2.6 million in his first arbitration season. That looks like the floor for Pederson.

Corey Dickerson looks like the closest comp to Pederson both in career and single-season numbers, and he got $3.025 million.

The guess

MLB Trade Rumors pegged Pederson for $2 million in 2018 but that seems low given Brown’s number. I think Pederson ends up somewhere in between that and Dickerson, so I’ll pick $2.8 million.