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Diamondbacks to sign Joc Pederson

He’d be a cheaper alternative to the likes of Soler and Martinez

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Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The news yesterday that Rhys Hoskins had signed with the Brewers, crossed one more name off the list of potential DH types for the Diamondbacks. While the two largest names are still on the market, in Jorge Soler and J.D. Martinez, a report from ESPN’s Buster Olney today indicates the team may be looking at a lower-priced choice.

This was backed up not long ago by Nick Piecoro of the Republic, who just posted a story, citing a source who said the Diamondbacks were “very close” to a contract agreement with Pederson. Initial reaction from D-backs fans was not warm, a lot of people clearly having set their hearts on Martinez and Soler - not helped by some sources insinuating the team were “closing in” on the latter. If you look at last year’s numbers, it’s easy to understand the disappointment. Here’s what the three players produced in 2023:

  • Joc Pederson: .235/.348/.416 = .764 OPS, 111 OPS+
  • J.D. Martinez: .271/.321/.572 = .893 OPS, 134 OPS+
  • Jorge Soler: .250/.341/.512 = .853 OPS, 128 OPS+

However, it’s worth nothing that a similar comparison 12 months ago would have gone the complete opposite way. At that point, Pederson was coming off a 146 OPS+ season, considerably better than Martinez (117) or Soler (95). None of the three men have been what you would call particularly consistent performers, and it might make sense to buy low rather than high. While Martinez has the best three-year average figures, he’ll turn 37 in August. That puts him considerably closer to the aging abyss than Soler or Pederson, who will both have their 32nd birthdays in a couple of months. It’s also worth noting the projections for the trio are similar. Jack had a chart, because of course he did:

Olney brought up another factor in Pederson’s favor in a follow-up Tweet. He noted Joc “has historically done his damage vs. right-handers,” and pointed out that 13 of the 15 expected starters in the rotations for Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego are RHP. [Sorry, Colorado, you are apparently not considered relevant.] He’s not wrong. Over his career, Pederson’s OPS is a whopping 212 points higher against right-handers (.834 vs. 622). It could make sense for him to start at DH against righties, which would be the bulk of the time - especially within the division - and use games against lefties to spell in right-hand or switch-hitting players Torey Lovullo wants to rest.

After the signing of Hoskins, who got a two-year, $34 million deal from the Brewers, despite missing the entire 2023 season, Michael McDermott wondered if that meant Arizona could be priced out of the top tier DH options. That was more than expected in Jack’s chart, and if you crossed the names out, Pederson would appear to represent the best value of the five players included. We’ll see how this pans out.

[Update] Looks to be a done deal