Blue Jays reportedly interested in Joc Pederson as team searches for upgrade offensively on open market

Tyson Shushkewich
6 months ago
As the year begins to wind down and with Spring Training just a few months away, the Toronto Blue Jays have made a couple of moves this winter but fans are still looking for the team to make a major upgrade. While adding Kevin Kiermaier and Isiah Kiner-Falefa puts them in a better spot compared to earlier this offseason, the club is still missing the offensive threat(s) that the club needs to tighten up the batting order, especially since the club is currently without Matt Chapman and Brandon Belt heading into next season.
Earlier today, it was reported through Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith’s latest article that the Blue Jays are interested in free-agent outfielder Joc Pederson, who has spent the last two campaigns on the West Coast with the San Francisco Giants. Nicholson-Smith cites industry sources for the Jays and Pederson connection.
Pederson spent the 2023 season with the Giants after accepting the one-year qualifying offer, so the California product won’t be attached to any draft pick compensation for any team that signs him. The 31-year-old spent parts of seven seasons with the Dodgers before becoming a free agent during the 2020/2021 offseason and signing with the Chicago Cubs. He split that year between Chicago and Atlanta before joining the Giants, where he has been the last two seasons.

The Blue Jays have reported interest in outfielder Joc Pederson

Since joining San Francisco, Pederson has authored a .255/.351/.470 slash line through 255 games, collecting 38 home runs and 121 RBIs to the tune of a .821 OPS along the way. Pederson has also collected 99 walks during that time and ranked well last season in terms of hard-hit percentage (96th percentile) while producing a 92.1 MPH average exit velocity. He did struggle in his second campaign compared to the 2022 season (a drop in over .110 OPS) but the power is still present while he also reduced his strikeout rate albeit through 13 fewer games. Pederson’s strong walk rate is a bonus, especially if he finds himself toward the bottom of the lineup and can get on base before the top of the lineup comes around.
On the field, Pederson can play all outfield positions but recently has seen more action in the corner spots, producing a -5 DRS last year between 38 games split between left and right field with the Giants in 2023. Last year, the Giants decided to use Pederson in the DH spot with increased frequency (79 games) while giving the lefty-batter a couple of looks at first base.
For the Jays, adding Pederson provides some additional power to the lineup (five seasons of at least 20+ home runs) and he does it from the left side, something the club currently lacks on the roster even after the Kiermaier signing.
While he isn’t a defensive-minded player compared to Kiermaier or Daulton Varsho, for the right price, Pederson could slot in as the club’s fourth outfielder this season while making spot starts in the DH spot as needed, mostly for when Kiermaier or George Springer require a day off and Varsho moves into centre as required (more on this later). There is a scenario where the club could use Pederson as the club’s full-time DH and bring in a more permanent solution at the hot corner, although that would be a risky gamble to bring in Pederson with the hope he doesn’t replicate his 2023 season where he posted a 0.6 bWAR.
Financially, Spotrac has a market value of $15.8 million for the veteran outfielder which seems a bit rich but given the current market, could be close to what he signs for. With Pederson, the Jays are likely looking at a multi-year deal with potential options, although a one-year “prove it” deal could benefit both sides especially since Pederson cannot receive another qualifying offer. He would come at a lower rate than what Cody Bellinger will command on the open market this winter but potentially the same bat threat, especially if Bellinger regresses to his 2020-2022 values and last season was an outlier. Pederson shares the same agency (Excel Sports Management) as George Springer, Cavan Biggio, and Nate Pearson.

Pederson cannot be the last offseason move for the Blue Jays

Ultimately, adding Pederson is not a bad move for the Jays squad but it cannot be the final touches for this club, as he alone is not enough to move the needle for a lineup that will be missing Chapman and Belt next year.
Bringing in the outfielder shouldn’t break the bank and Ross Atkins and co. should be able to spend for more assets if ownership is truly behind the club in the same form as last season (which CEO Mark Shapiro had mentioned at his end-of-year presser). The hope would be that the Jays would be getting the 2022 version of the former Dodgers’ top prospect, as even with his power, the OPS and average values would pale in comparison if he struggles as the plate and the team should have just brought back Brandon Belt to be the full-time DH again.
The front office still needs to add another bat after a potential Pederson addition, whether that is Rhys Hoskins, J.D. Martinez, or Justin Turner (amongst others) to solidify the lineup heading into next season after sitting in the middle of the pack in 2023.
To start with Pederson would be a good way to break in the new year though.

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