In addition to the reported interest in Eddie Rosario and Jackie Bradley Jr., the SF Giants are targeting another left-handed bat as well.
Hat tip to Susan Slusser again who reports that the SF Giants are talking to free-agent outfielder and longtime division rival Joc Pederson. Of course, the Giants know Pederson well from his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The left-handed slugger was drafted in the 11th round of the 2010 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, California. Pederson has ties to the area as he grew up 35 miles south of San Francisco.
He debuted with the Dodgers in 2014 and has shown off impressive power ever since. In seven seasons, the outfielder has slashed .230/.336/.470 (116 OPS+) with 112 doubles, seven triples, 130 home runs, and 303 RBI. This comes with a solid 12.1 percent walk rate against a 24.2 percent strikeout rate, so he brings a patient bat with some swing-and-miss to the table.
Pederson’s market might be hurt by the rough campaign he had in 2020 where he posted a .681 OPS with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 138 plate appearances. That is not the last impression he was hoping to leave in a contract year. In fairness, it was a small sample, so teams may not be putting too much stock into last season.
With that being said, Pederson’s value with the bat over the years has become clear: He is a platoon hitter.
As a team, San Francisco produced a .764 OPS against righties. This is a solid mark, but one that they could improve upon. By reportedly adding infielder Tommy La Stella, the Giants have added one potent left-handed bat who can hit against right-handed pitching, but there is always room for one more.
Throughout his career, Pederson has produced a strong .849 OPS with 121 home runs against righties. He struggles to the tune of a .576 OPS against southpaws, so he should continue to hit produce so long as his exposure to lefties is limited.
In the field, the 28-year-old came up as a center fielder but is better suited for a corner outfield role (8 DRS in left field, 6 DRS in right field) going forward. The Giants have a lot of corner outfielders with Alex Dickerson, Darin Ruf, Austin Slater, and Mike Yastrzemski, so they would have to thin out that crowd before bringing in Pederson.
Regardless, Pederson is one of the more potent bats remaining on the free-agent market and one that could be had on a relatively affordable, short-term contract. Given his local ties and penchant for punishing righties, the power bat makes a lot of sense for San Francisco.