We all know that the Milwaukee Brewers were not very good offensively in 2020. Unlike 2019, the Brewers really did not have dangerous bats that were proven around Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, and Keston Hiura. On most nights in 2019, Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal, and Eric Thames were doing damage and lengthening the lineup. In 2020, Justin Smoak, Avisail Garcia, and Omar Narvaez failed to get it done.
While Garcia and Narvaez along with Yelich and Hiura are strong candidates for bounce back campaigns, acquiring another bat could prove a solid strategy. One name that comes to mind that is available is 2020 World Series Champion Joc Pederson.
Joc Pederson is another player coming off a down season. In 2020, Pederson slashed .190/.285/.387 while posting a wRC+ of 88. His down year coincided with his free agent season, which means the Brewers could be getting a really good player on an owner-friendly contract if they were to sign him.
Why would the Brewers consider bringing Pederson to Milwaukee? First of all, he is a very dangerous hitter, especially against right-handed pitching. Against righties, Pederson has a career 128 wRC+. As good as he is against right-handers, he is just as bad against southpaws. A wRC+ of 56 is demonstrative of that, although his opportunities against left-handers have been few (385 career plate appearances).
Again last season was one for Pederson to forget, but it was for many players around MLB. While Pederson was whiffing more and walking less, he was hitting the ball very hard. In 2020, Pederson was in the 96th percentile in all of baseball in exit velocity.
His track record of performance suggests the 28 year old outfielder is apt to continue be good in 2021. For example in 2019, Pederson slashed .249/.339/.538 while posting a 127 wRC+. He also hit 36 bombs. While 2019 was his best season for power, almost every other season previous to 2019 is almost as good with him actually posting higher fWAR in 2016 and 2017. He also whiffed less and walked more in comparison to the rest of the league while still hitting the ball hard (although not as hard) in 2019.
If Pederson came to Milwaukee, the Brewers would be getting an impact player who can play all three outfield positions. With that in mind, he could rotate in the outfield with Avisail Garcia in right field and with an aging Lorenzo Cain in center. Everyone would get a lot of playing time and a lot of at bats. Pederson’s bat would likely play up Miller Park...oops...I mean American Family Field.
Pederson is generally above 3 WAR, and that is not an unrealistic exception for the still-young outfielder. Getting 500 plate appearances, hitting 25-30 home runs, and posting a wRC+ above 120 are real possibilities if not probabilities with this guy. Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors predicts his contract to be 2 years/$18M. While that is a significant investment for a Brewers’ front office likely to be looking to reduce payroll, there are not many players below the age of 30, apt to slug .500, and can play competently all over the outfield that a team can get for that type of contract.