After two years in San Francisco, the SF Giants are likely not going to make an effort to re-sign Joc Pederson. However, his expected market got more complicated on Friday as several players with similar skill sets were non-tendered, thereby becoming free agents.
Did the non-tender market hurt the market for a former SF Giants slugger?
There are some surprise players non-tendered on Friday, including Milwaukee Brewers All-Star pitcher Brandon Woodruff. However, there were less surprising names that could have a direct effect on Pederson, including Rowdy Tellez, Dan Volgebach, and Mike Ford.
The DH-only market also consists of veteran bat Carlos Santana. Jorge Soler and J.D. Martinez are free agents as well, but they are at the top of the market. There is a group of players behind them who might have a tougher chance of finding a team.
Between Pederson, Tellez, Vogelbach, and Ford, there are four players who all have a similar profile in that they are limited defensively and hit from the left side. Ford, for example, can play some first base and Pederson has experience in the outfield in emergency situations, but these are players that teams do not generally want in the field.
It is usually a tough market for the DH-only players, but it could be even tougher this year given the number of options. Many teams just do not have a DH-only on the roster. Rather, they will allocate that lineup spot to veteran players as a way to keep them healthy by getting them off of the field occasionally.
For Pederson, he is coming off of a down year in which he slashed .235/.348/.416 (111 OPS+) with 15 home runs, 51 RBI, and 59 runs in 425 plate appearances. This includes a 13.4 percent walk rate, 20.9 percent strikeout rate, and a .182 ISO.
The .348 on-base percentage will be appealing to some teams, but the declining power numbers are certainly a concern for someone on the wrong side of 30. With that being said, he is just one year removed from an NL All-Star nod in a year where he tallied an .874 OPS with 23 home runs.
Though, Tellez is just one year removed from hitting 35 home runs with the Milwaukee Brewers while Ford registered a .798 OPS in 251 plate appearances with the Seattle Mariners this past season. Ford had a nice year and was projected to earn just $1.5 million through arbitration, but it is tough to commit a roster spot to a DH regardless of cost.
Despite a subpar season in 2023, Pederson's average exit velocity (92.1 MPH), hard-hit rate (52.2 percent), and barrel rate (12.1 percent) were some of the best in baseball. His representatives will be selling teams on the fact that his expected stats were much better than his actual numbers. Maybe that will work, but DH is a role where the results speak louder than anything else and the results just were not there for Pederson last year.
If teams are looking at the 10-year veteran and feel that he is demanding too much, there are plenty of other options available. And, that is where Pederson could run into trouble by pricing himself out of the market.
He is a solid hitter and still reaches base at a high rate, but his value is tied entirely to his offensive production.
The Giants are looking to get younger and more athletic, making a reunion unlikely. That has been the case since the end of the season. The lineup will likely return many of the same faces because they are under contract or team control. It is hard to dedicate a roster spot to Pederson's skill set as the Giants found out last year. He could still land a multi-year deal, but the number of alternatives now in free agency could reduce the size of his market.