Dodgers undecided on next step for struggling outfielder Joc Pederson
On Monday afternoon, Joc Pederson’s tenure in Oklahoma City will end, as the Dodgers’ triple-A affiliate will play their season finale. When his tenure with the Dodgers will resume remains a mystery.
After the Dodgers demoted Pederson on Aug. 19, in conjunction with the acquisition of Curtis Granderson, manager Dave Roberts indicated the team planned to give Pederson an opportunity to reconfigure his swing by playing every day. Pederson has not had much success — after 12 games, he was hitting .125 with one extra-base hit.
So what happens now?
“We haven’t made a decision,” Roberts said before Sunday’s series finale. “I would expect Joc back…. I would expect him back here. But nothing is set in stone. Nothing is guaranteed.”
Roberts would not say when Pederson will be recalled, or where he would go during the interim. He could join another affiliate, like double-A Tulsa or Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, during the minor-league playoffs.
The Dodgers do not appear to have a need for Pederson, He hit .156 in the second half with two home runs. The team has committed to using Chris Taylor in center field, though rookie Alex Verdugo started in center field during all four games of this series in San Diego, as Taylor filled in for injured shortstop Corey Seager.
Taylor only played the infield before 2017. Despite his inexperience, the organization views him as a defensive upgrade over Pederson, who has regressed as a fielder, according to advanced metrics like Ultimate Zone Rating. Pederson has been worth 6.1 runs below average in 2017.
Verdugo joined the Dodgers on Friday as part of the first wave of September call-ups while Pederson remained in the minors. On his last day with the Dodgers, Pederson unveiled a modified stance, and when he went to Oklahoma City, he was expected to work with Shawn Wooten, one of the team’s hitting instructors. Wooten has been with the big-league club on this road trip.
Roberts indicated that Pederson’s past credentials — including an All-Star appearance in 2015, a combined 51 homers for 2015 and 2016, and an .826 on-base plus slugging percentage in the first half of 2017 — did not guarantee a spot on the major-league roster.
“You’ve got to play good,” Roberts said. “We haven’t made a decision. No one has a right to just be here because they were in the big leagues before.”
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