St. Louis Cardinals: The time to push for Joc Pederson is now

The St. Louis Cardinals appeared to have missed out on a trade for Joc Pederson, but now he’s still available. They need to push for him now.

Spring Training may be starting today for the St. Louis Cardinals, but there are still moves out there that can be done. We have seen all offseason that the Cardinals seem content with starting the 2020 season with an outfield consisting of a lot of question marks.

Between Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, Lane Thomas, Tyler O’Neill, and any of the other outfield prospects for the Cardinals, there are very few sure things in terms of places of production. The lack of confidence and clarity in the outfield spills over into the lineup and who exactly will replace Marcell Ozuna‘s production from the cleanup spot.

We wrote about how Joc Pederson would be a great fit for that cleanup spot in the lineup, but won’t come cheap. One month later, and that sentiment is still true, but the price for Pederson may have been overestimated and the Dodgers’ willingness to move him has been shown.

In the shuffle of last week’s Mookie Betts trade moshpit, the Dodgers had a very well veiled trade in place for Pederson, but as with the initial Betts trade, it fell through.

In that article I wrote, I guessed that Pederson’s price would likely be high given his age (27), his underrated production (125 and 127 OPS+ in the past two seasons), as well as his salary ($7.75M in 2020). However, when looking at the trade that ended up falling through, it may paint a different picture on his price.

To be fair, the proposed trade to the Angels was never fully reported, but what was hinted at was a package of Pederson and pitcher Ross Stripling for Luis Rengifo and two prospects. Exactly who those prospects were unknown, but Rengifo was supposedly the centerpiece. That’s a good sign.

Taking a quick look at Rengifo, he doesn’t look like much more than a utility infielder. He’s 22 and played solid defense up the middle, but at 16% below average offensively, it doesn’t seem like he was a worthwhile return for a slugger like Pederson, even if he’s a rental.

With this package in mind, acquiring just Pederson (who the Dodgers are now “left with” according to the NY Post) shouldn’t be that costly. A young utility infielder along with a 10-20 prospect in the system could be comparable to the package the Angels were giving up, discounting a little to take Stripling out of the deal.

For the Cardinals, this would be a little more than a guy like Yairo Munoz, and my package would start with Edmundo Sosa, then throw on a guy like Johan Oviedo or someone around that level. That is not a lot to give up for Pederson and it sounds wrong just guessing that, but based on the Angels trade that is what I believe a comparable package is.

The problem with the Angels deal falling through is that now every team in the league knows Pederson’s price and they all know that he’s cheap. The teams vying for Pederson must’ve increased in the past week and for a team like the Cardinals who haven’t shown any obvious interest, that is not a good sign for any hopes of acquiring him.

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The benefits of adding Joc Pederson’s bat to the lineup don’t need to be restated. He’s improved his batting profile steadily the past two seasons and has the stuff to bat cleanup. His price is low, his current team has shown they want to move him, and the Cardinals should be in on it. I fear they won’t though.