Entering Friday, the Cubs had just three outfielders on their 40-man roster: Jason Heyward, Ian Happ and Phillip Ervin.
Now, they have four:
Free-agent outfielder Joc Pederson in agreement with Cubs, pending physical, sources tell @TheAthletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 29, 2021
Joc Pederson has had two recent years very similar to Kyle Schwarber’s. In 2019, Pederson hit .249/.339/.538 with 36 home runs. That was good for 3.2 bWAR. In 2019, Schwarber hit .250/.339/.531 with 38 home runs and 2.1 bWAR.
In the shortened 2020 season, both players declined. Pederson hit .190/.285/.397 with seven home runs in 138 plate appearances. Schwarber hit .188/.308/.393 with 11 home runs in 224 plate appearances. Pederson had -0.3 bWAR; Schwarber, 0.1 bWAR.
Pederson has a reputation as a better defensive player than Schwarber and has played center field in the past, though he didn’t play there in 2020. He’s likely going to be the starting left fielder, with Ervin perhaps playing against certain lefthanders.
There has not yet been an announcement of this signing by the Cubs, nor has there been anything reported on how much the contract is. I’d have to assume it’s less than the Cubs would have paid Schwarber in arbitration. I’ll add that information to this post when it’s available.
This is a possible high-reward signing. Pederson has 130 career home runs and a lifetime .336 OBP. He’ll turn 29 in April. If he can hit at his 2019 level, the Cubs got themselves a solid hitter for (likely) the bottom of the lineup.
Pederson’s father, Stu Pederson, also played in the big leagues, briefly for the Dodgers in 1985.
Joc will have to change his number with the Cubs. That “31” he’s wearing on his Dodger uniform is retired on the North Side.
UPDATE: Here’s what Pederson signed for:
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
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