Dodgers: Spring Battle Brewing Between Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo?
After the Dodgers traded away Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig it seemed a foregone conclusion that Alex Verdugo would finally get his chance to start. Joc Pederson might have something to say about that.
Alex Verdugo has been waiting patiently for his chance to start with the Dodgers after multiple seasons in Triple-A. After the Dodgers traded away Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp there was a finally a starting spot lined up for Alex Verdugo. After signing AJ Pollock, Verdugo will have to have a solid spring to get the starting job over Joc Pederson.
While Joc Pederson has been linked to trade rumors the Dodgers have not yet found a spot to trade him. Given Pollock’s well known injury history, the club could choose to keep Joc in case another injury riddled season hits Pollock. After all, the Dodgers love depth so trading away a valuable player and minimizing their outfield depth would not be an Andrew Friedman move.
AJ Pollock figures to get most of the starts in center field and Cody Bellinger will start games at first base and a corner outfield spot. The other corner spot will go to Alex Verdugo if he can beat out Joc Pederson in the spring. Although both are talented outfielders, their skill sets are polar opposites of each other.
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Joc slugs 20-25 home runs a season and is a platoon outfielder do to his inability to hit left-handed pitching. Joc has decent defense in left field but he is not the fastest and his arm is slightly above average. Alex Verdugo plays stellar outfield defense and has a rocket arm that will profile nicely in right field where the Dodgers lost Puig’s cannon arm.
Joc is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season so the Dodgers will likely give Alex Verdugo the first shot at winning the third and final outfield spot when Bellinger patrols the outfield. Verdugo showed the ability to hit left-handed hitters in the minors and if he can do the same at the big league level then that will help cut down on the number of platoons the Dodgers deploy in 2019.
Verdugo has patiently awaited for his opportunity to start and the time has finally come as position players will start reporting in a little over a week. If Joc is ultimately traded then Verdugo will be a lock to start but until that happens Alex must win the job outright in spring training. The Dodgers don’t have many position battles entering spring training but the Joc/Verdugo battle is one of the few to watch in the coming weeks.