With reports that free-agent outfielder Joc Pederson agreed to a one-year, $7 million offer with the Chicago Cubs, he might be having a bit of seller’s remorse considering there are also reports he turned down a more lucrative offer from the White Sox.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported early Friday morning that Pederson and the Cubs were in agreement, but Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times said Pederson’s deal to go to the North Side is considerably smaller than what he could have gotten by veering slightly south.
White Sox reportedly offered Joc Pederson $10 million
Castillo is reporting Pederson received a one-year, $10 million offer from the White Sox a few weeks back, but asked for more money. General manager Rick Hahn demurred and instead got Adam Eaton for one year at $7 million — identical to Pederson’s Cubs deal — with an $8.5 million team option or $1 million buyout for 2022.
The free-agent market took a long time to develop this winter, with the big pieces at the top of the market only starting to move within the last week or so. DJ LeMahieu agreed to a six-year, $90 million deal to return to the New York Yankees on Jan. 22 and George Springer came to terms with the Toronto Blue Jays on the biggest contract of the winter so far, six years and $150 million.
But the middle of the market has been tough and Pederson’s gamble with pushing for more money from the White Sox wound up costing him in the long run. While some fans on the South Side may not be thrilled with the return of Eaton, he is a better every-day option in right field than Pederson.
A former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder, Pederson owns a huge edge in power with 130 career home runs in seven seasons, including a career-best 36 in 2019. But he’s also a career .230 hitter with an .806 OPS and hit just .190 with a .681 OPS in 43 games and 138 plate appearances last season.
Pederson would have needed a platoon partner to be most effective. In 385 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching, the lefty slugger has a career .576 OPS with nine home runs — the last of which came in September 2018.
Eaton, also a left-handed bat, is coming off a rough shortened season with the Washington Nationals during which he hit .226 with a .669 OPS in 41 games and 176 plate appearances. He had 11 doubles, four homers and 17 RBI.
But lifetime, Eaton hits .282 with a .775 OPS and has experience as an everyday player with a World Series champion, playing 151 games with 656 plate appearances for Washington in 2019. He also has speed, with 44 career triples and 84 stolen bases, including 18 with the White Sox in 2015 and 15 in 2019 for the Nationals.
Pederson has 17 career steals and has been thrown out 18 times.
As far as splits? In 877 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching, Eaton has hit .272 with a .695 OPS, with 31 doubles, eight triples and five home runs. Not All-Star level, by any means, but competent.
This proves that sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.