Cardinals: Did it just become harder for St. Louis to sign Joc Pederson?

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Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at bat against the Washington Nationals in game three of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 6, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at bat against the Washington Nationals in game three of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 6, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Cardinals are pursuing Joc Pederson, but Adam Eaton’s contract with the Chicago White Sox might complicate things.

The Chicago White Sox’s deal with free-agent outfielder Adam Eaton – one-year, $7 million with an $8.5 million club option for 22 – was viewed as a possible precursor to a more lucrative outfield market than originally expected. And it could have a direct impact on the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals are among the teams engaged on outfielder Joc Pederson, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, and MLB Trade Rumors listed him as the No. 18 free agent and projects him to land a two-year, $18 million deal in free agency.

Eaton, meanwhile, was not listed among their top 50 free agents. The 32-year-old has an extensive history with the White Sox and by all accounts, presents less upside than Pederson. He is also coming off one of the worst statistical seasons of his career, hitting .226/.285/.384 with four home runs and 17 RBI with the Washington Nationals.

Pederson is younger (28) and while he slashed only .190/.285/.397 with seven home runs and 16 RBI last season, there is a belief that an inconsistent role played a factor in his struggles. And considering that he has hit at least 25 home runs in four seasons, with his highest being 36 in 2019, it is highly likely that some team offers him a lucrative multi-year deal with an everyday role in the outfield.

Which means that Eaton securing $7 million will likely drive up the price for a player like Pederson. And considering the Cardinals’ well-known financial constraints, it could take them out of the bidding. There are no indications, however, that has been the case. But if it does, the team could turn to other free agents such as Brett Gardner, Kevin Pillar and Robbie Grossman, among others.

Their priority, of course, remains re-signing Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. But their next priority – upgrading the outfield – potentially got much harder (and more expensive) on Tuesday.

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