Joc Pederson has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $7 million free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs, per multiple reports.
Free-agent outfielder Joc Pederson in agreement with Cubs, pending physical, sources tell @TheAthletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 29, 2021
Joc Pederson is in agreement on a one-year, $7 million deal with the Chicago Cubs, sources tell ESPN. First with the agreement was @Ken_Rosenthal.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 29, 2021
Heard Pederson’s 2022 option is a mutual option #Cubs— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 29, 2021
Pederson hit .190/.285/.397 with seven home runs in 48 games in 2020, though he recovered to hit .382/.432/.559 in the postseason, including 4-for-10 with a home run and two walks in the World Series.
He missed five games in September on the family medical emergency list. This came after the birth of his son, though the Dodgers didn’t disclose the reason for Pederson’s absence. Jeff Passan at ESPN reported on January 12, “His son spent a considerable amount of time in the neonatal intensive care unit during September after a difficult pregnancy for his wife, Kelsey.”
Pederson, who turns 29 in April, made $7.75 million with the Dodgers in 2020, pro-rated to $2.87 million in the truncated, 60-game season.
In his parts of seven major league seasons, Pederson hit 25 or more home runs four times, including a career-best 36 in 2019, hitting .230/.336/.470, a 118 wRC+, in his Dodgers career. Pederson was even better in the postseason, hitting .272/.349/.503, a 127 wRC+, with nine home runs in 64 games.
Pederson has a .700 slugging percentage in his three World Series, and his five home runs in the Fall Classic are tied for the second-most in Dodgers franchise history, tied with Gil Hodges and trailing only Duke Snider (11 home runs).
Drafted by the Dodgers in the 11th round in 2010, Pederson passed up a baseball scholarship with USC to turn pro with the team his father Stu once played for, an outfielder for eight games in 1985. The younger Pederson was with the Dodgers organization for 11 seasons.
In 2015, Pederson was the first Dodgers rookie position player to start an All-Star Game, and just the sixth rookie All-Star overall in franchise history. In the years since, Corey Seager (2016) and Cody Bellinger (2017) added to that group of Dodgers rookie All-Stars, though they did not start.
Pederson’s main role with the Dodgers was thumping right-handed pitchers, hitting .238/.349/.501 in his career, a 128 wRC+. Since the start of the 2018 season, his 67 home runs against right-handers rank third in the majors, behind only Mike Trout and Eugenio Suarez.
But against left-handed pitchers, Pederson hit only .191/.266/.310, a 59 wRC+, leading to a limited role with the Dodgers. He started only 51 times against southpaws, just nine percent of his total starts. In July, before the 2020 season started, Pederson when asked about his pending free agency seemed to know the playing time grass would be greener elsewhere than Los Angeles.
“I get text messages all the time saying I should be playing every day on this team or a lot of other teams,” Pederson said. “I love playing for the Dodgers, and doing my part, but who knows about what it could be if I was playing every day. There’s a definite unknown box there that hasn’t been opened up for about five years.”
Well, at least Pederson knows his way around Wrigley Field.