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)
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)
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.
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.