In a minor surprise, the SF Giants issued a $19.65 qualifying offer to both Carlos Rodón and Joc Pederson. There was no surprise with Rodón, but it was mildly surprising to see the power-hitting outfielder receive one as well. I have to wonder aloud if this was the right move to make?
Did the SF Giants make a mistake in issuing a qualifying offer to Joc Pederson?
Last month, I examined the case for issuing Pederson a qualifying offer. If the Giants were motivated in retaining the left-handed bat, then I think the qualifying offer was a good way to go even if it is a slight overpay.
However, I wonder if retaining him is the right move in the first place? Chances are good that the 30-year-old outfielder accepts the qualifying offer and remains in San Francisco through the 2023 season. This maneuver sidesteps the need for a multi-year deal that might have been necessary without the qualifying offer. So, I think, in this sense, it was the right move by the front office.
That said, I am taking a step back and wondering if the Giants could find a better fit elsewhere. It bears mentioning that Pederson was fantastic in 2022, slashing .274/.353/.521 (144 OPS+) with 23 home runs, 70 RBI, and 57 runs in 433 plate appearances. This includes a 9.7 percent walk rate against a 23.1 percent strikeout rate.
However, the nine-year veteran graded out as one of the worst outfielders in baseball as he was worth -15 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and -11 Outs Above Average (OAA). The Giants had one of the worst defenses in baseball and that is an area that needs a major overhaul. The struggles with the glove extended far beyond Pederson.
San Francisco will know by the end of Tuesday if Pederson will accept or reject the qualifying offer. If he does accept, then the Giants will have a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat, especially against right-handed pitching.
However, keeping Pederson does not go a long way in solving the team's defensive issues. They already have some pretty defensively-limited players in Wilmer Flores and J.D. Davis. Pederson might be best suited as a DH-only going, but that is hard to commit to with Flores and Davis also on the roster.
On top of this, defense will need to be more of a priority with any other roster additions that the Giants make this winter. So, there will be pressure for the front office to make additions that help alleviate some of the limitations of the current core.
Plus, retaining Pederson limits the ways in which the Giants can upgrade the outfield at this point. The Giants have already committed to tendering LaMonte Wade Jr., Austin Slater, and Mike Yastrzemski a contract. If no major trades or signings are made, the Giants are pretty much bringing back the same outfield group as last offseason.
That is going to be a tough sell to fans with players like Brandon Nimmo, Aaron Judge, Andrew Benintendi, and Mitch Haniger on the market. There are definitely opportunities to upgrade the outfield and hopefully keeping Pederson does not limit those opportunities.
I do not think the Giants can go wrong with keeping Pederson on a one-year deal as I do not believe there are really any bad one-year deals. It would have been nice to see the front office retool the outfield, but as things currently stand, they are conveying that they are bringing back the same group. Though, a lot can change between now and the start of the season. I expect that it will.