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The Joc Pederson signing by the numbers

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He’s basically Kyle Schwarber with slightly better defense.

MLB: World Series-Los Angeles Dodgers at Tampa Bay Rays
Joc Pederson chases down a fly ball in the 2020 World Series
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Everything about this signing is confusing to me.

Don’t get me wrong, Joc Pederson is a solid player. He will help the Cubs a lot in the outfielder. The 28 year old has a .230/.336/.470 career slash line with fairly pronounced handedness splits. Honestly, he’s Kyle Schwarber with a better glove.

Which is what makes this whole signing mind boggling. The Cubs already had a player who looks so similar to Pederson that I had to do a double take while creating this table:

Pederson and Schwarber career stats

Player PA HR BB% K% Avg OBP Slg wRC+ WAR
Player PA HR BB% K% Avg OBP Slg wRC+ WAR
Joc Pederson 2517 130 12.1 24.2 .230 .336 .470 118 13.0
Kyle Schwarber 2108 121 13.0 28.0 .230 .336 .480 113 9.6
Schwarber and Pederson career select stats Fangraphs

They have similar splits problems with Schwarber batting .239 career vs. righties and .197 career vs. lefties and Pederson batting .238 vs. righties and .191 career vs. lefties. I mean, just look at this:

Schwarber vs. lefties: .197/.301/.348 wRC+ 75
Pederson vs. lefties: .191/.266/.310 wRC+ 59

Pederson has a slightly better glove and Schwarber has more power. So what gives? Why would the Cubs part ways with a fan favorite only to sign a functionally identical player a couple months later?

It’s all about the Benjamins as this tweet from David Kaplan suggests:

Got it? In December the Cubs couldn’t afford a left-handed home run hitter with bad splits against lefties who was scheduled to make between $7-10 million, but after missing out on Jon Lester who “would have signed for just about anything” they can afford a checks notes left-handed hitter with less power and bad splits against lefties for a one-year $7 million deal.

Everything about this is aggravating.

And don’t get me wrong, Joc Pederson seems like a great guy. I bet we’ll have a blast with him playing at Wrigley Field, but the thing is the Cubs already had the same player who was a 2016 World Series legend and a fan favorite.

Apparently the cost of the Cubs’ soul is somewhere around the $2 million they saved in arbitration.