The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Joc Pederson in 2011 and watched him develop from a 10th-rounder to one of their top prospects and then a postseason hero.
After the 2020 season, Pederson reached free agency for the first time in his career and it came at an opportune time as he was just removed from helping the Dodgers win their first championship since 1988.
Heading into the offseason, there wasn’t much of an expectation Pederson — nor Kiké Hernandez — would remain with the Dodgers as both sought larger roles.
However, it also appears L.A. had no interest in re-signing Pederson, per Andy McCollough of The Athletic:
On the first day of free agency, Joc Pederson’s phone rang. On the line was Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations. He was not calling to discuss a new contract. He was calling to say goodbye.
“Basically,” Pederson told The Athletic on the ground floor of Truist Park after Game 2 of the National League Division Series, the message was “we’re not going to be in on you.”
Had the Dodgers been more aggressive in their pursuit of Pederson, he suggested a return was possible even if it meant still being part of a platoon:
Pederson, for his part, said he would have considered taking another contract with the Dodgers.
“There were a lot of other teams who were offering me fair offers with the same type of deals,” Pederson said. “If I was going to be a platoon player, I was going to be on a team who was competing in the playoffs. I did not want to platoon on a team that I did not (think) was going to be in the playoffs.”
Pederson ended up signing a one-year contract worth $10 million with the Chicago Cubs, who gave him a starting job. That eventually slipped away and the Cubs traded Pederson to the Atlanta Braves before the deadline.
From the Dodgers’ point of view, it would have been difficult for them to guarantee much playtime for Pederson. AJ Pollock was locked into the starting left field job and they could not have predicted Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger would both miss time with injuries.
Pederson hit a combined .238/.310/.422 with a 94 wRC+ in 137 games for the Cubs and Braves, but his bat has once again come alive for the postseason.
In the Braves’ four National League Division Series games, Pederson hit .429 with two home runs and so far in the NL Championship Series, he is batting .313 with one home run and four RBI.
Pederson not finding extra motivation in NLCS
Despite facing his former team in the NLCS, Pederson said he has not found any extra motivation to perform and prove them wrong for letting him walk in free agency.
“Not really. I think that this is a lot bigger than me,” he answered.
“This is 26 of us pulling and have one common goal. Obviously I’ve been a part of the Dodgers for a long time and they’re a really good team and organization, but right now they’re in the way of our common goal so we kind of have to do whatever we can to win ballgames.”
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