Joc Pederson upgrading and staying in NL West could be Dodgers playoff nightmare

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The Dodgers' fall to the Diamondbacks in the NLDS last year was, to put it mildly, embarrassing. Their postseason match-ups weren't even close enough to say that the Dodgers really gave it their best shot, as the entire team hit .177 against the Dbacks' .284, and the 11-2 outcome of Game 1 was a stunner that won't leave our collective nightmares for some time. One could even speculate that the utter overdrive the team has gone into this offseason is a result of that embarrassment and the team's dedication to never subjecting themselves to it again.

The 84-win Diamondbacks came out of nowhere to freeze the 100-win Dodgers, sparking a rivalry that the Dodgers haven't had to worry about through much of Arizona's 30-year-old history. Meanwhile, LA's oldest rivals in San Francisco were watching from the comforts of their homes after placing fourth in the division. However, an ex-Dodger and now-ex-Giant is moving to Phoenix to give the Dodgers some grief.

Joc Pederson has signed a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Diamondbacks on Thursday night, which will give him much more of an opportunity to terrorize the Dodgers than he ever got in San Francisco.

Joc Pederson signing with Diamondbacks could be bad news for the Dodgers

During the early months of the offseason, there were some rumblings that Pederson might return to the Dodgers. This was, of course, before they signed Shohei Ohtani and locked any other prospective DH candidate out of LA for the next 10 years. Pederson showed flashes of brilliance over his seven years with the Dodgers, but they ultimately let him go in free agency after the 2020 season. After bouncing around a bit from the Cubs to the Braves to the Giants, he settled in San Francisco for a while as a DH and outfielder.

His first season there was an All-Star year, when he hit for his best career average and best slugging since 2019. The Giants extended a qualifying offer worth about $20 million to him for 2023 and Pederson took it before his performance dipped that year. He hit free agency again and is taking a $10 million pay cut to move to Arizona, presumably replacing Tommy Pham (who once slapped Pederson in the face over a fantasy football disagreement) as a DH/outfielder. Pederson has shown that he can be an asset to teams and give them 20+ home runs in a season. Although he hasn't reached that summit quite as often since leaving the Dodgers, if he can pull it out again for the Diamondbacks, it could spell trouble for LA.