In February, the Los Angeles Dodgers nearly traded outfielder Joc Pederson and pitcher Ross Stripling to the Los Angeles Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo. The deal fell through, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
When the Mookie Betts blockbuster was being restructured, the Pederson and Stripling deal was left in limbo. Angels’ general manager, Arte Moreno, got tired of waiting and pulled the plug on any transaction.
Pederson admitted that it would be a “little awkward” returning to the Dodgers after almost being shipped off to the American League, but that his focus was still on capturing a World Series title.
While it is certainly a strange circumstance for any player to go through that roller coaster ride, having Pederson still in the fold is beneficial to the Dodgers’ offense.
Now that Pederson is remaining in Dodger blue, the team has a realistic chance to trot out the best lineup in the National League day in and day out.
The offense will obviously be spearheaded by the newly acquired Betts, but will also include bright young star Gavin Lux, the recently extended Max Muncy, reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger, former Silver Slugger recipient Corey Seager and other threats in Justin Turner and Chris Taylor.
In 2019, the team had three players who hit over 30 home runs (Bellinger, Muncy and Pederson), while Turner rocked 27. Bringing Betts into the equation, you now have four to five guys who could realistically club 30 plus home runs.
When you also consider that A.J. Pollock is one of your less premiere names offensively, you are in pretty good shape overall.
When your lineup is decked out with studs like Betts and Bellinger, all eyes will be on them each night, and rightfully so.
This takes pressure off some of the supplemental pieces such as Pederson, who an offensive threat in his own right, can just focus on his game and helping set the table for the guys around him.
Pederson is no slouch in his own right. Having a potent lineup surrounding him will only enhance his performance.
Historically, Pederson can be relied on for roughly 3+ fWAR, which he has done three times in five full seasons. In 2018, he was close, putting up 2.7 fWAR.
If he can do that again for Los Angeles, he will again be an integral part to the team’s lineup, and if he can put up even more, it’s gravy.
Lastly, having Pederson gives the team a level of versatility.
In 2019, Pederson played all three outfield positions as well as first base. While he mostly thrives in the corner outfield positions, it is helpful that he can also take reps at first if need be.
During interleague games, Pederson working as the designated hitter also gives the Dodgers an opportunity to really trot out a dangerous lineup. The outfield is one of Los Angeles’s strong suits, so if you are able to get more bodies in a game, your offense will thrive.
On days where the Dodgers would like to give players rest or reps to other players, having a guy like Pederson who can change the game with the swing of a bat off the bench, is a strong weapon.
Overall, the Dodgers keeping Pederson isn’t a bad thing, in fact it could prove to be a positive. The potential that the team can have one of the most robust lineups in the game is something that can feasibly come into fruition.