Do the Dodgers need to hold onto Joc?
A week ago I heard the Dodgers needed to trade Joc Pederson before signing A. J. Pollock but they went ahead and inked Pollock without making a deal for Joc. On the surface, it would appear that the Dodgers have a boatload of outfielders and that Joc is now expendable but I don’t see it that way and feel if they trade Joc now, they might regret it this summer.
Before the Dodgers acquired Pollock I’d already made my feeling known about how I feel about Joc and that he’s an underappreciated asset that they should hold onto unless they can get substantial value for him.
If the Dodgers trade Joc and don’t get a major league outfielder or 2nd baseman as compensation they still have a lot of outfield options but with some caveats.
Much has been made about the health record of Pollock and with good reason. When you have only played 12/112/113 games over the past three years because of injuries and not because you were being platooned it is a legitimate question to wonder how many games is he good for in 2019.
If Joc is traded that would mean Andrew Toles would be the backup left-handed hitting outfielder and while I enjoy Toles, he has also had his fair share of injuries during his time in a Dodger uniform. In 2016 Toles was healthy, but in 2017 he was only able to play thirty-one games before missing the rest of the season. Toles did not have a catastrophic injury in 2018 but he had a variety of injuries that allowed him to only play in eighty-eight games between AAA and the Dodgers.
Alex Verdugo being successful enough to keep whatever starting job he gets isn’t guaranteed. I think the odds are good that Alex will be good enough to be in the NL ROY hunt, but he could flop and if Joc is traded, that would make Andrew Toles the backup plan.
Beyond health and rookies, we have Max Muncy. Max is expected to be the Dodgers starting 1st baseman after one of the most surprising seasons ever produced by a twenty-seven-year-old career minor leaguer. I don’t think we can give Max Muncy a blank check for 2019 simply based on his 2018 season after a career of mediocre minor league performances. I’m rooting hard for Max because I love his story but if he pumpkin out, it will be Cody Bellinger being moved from the outfield to 1st base to fill that hole.
So let me put this out like this:
Pollock is the CF, Bellinger is the LF, Verdugo is the RF, and Joc is the insurance. If Pollock gets hurt, Bellinger moves to CF, and Joc takes the at-bats against right-hand pitching, with Hernandez taking the left-hand at-bats. If Verdugo fails to keep his starting job, Joc can play RF or Bellinger can play RF, with Hernandez getting the left-hand at-bats. If Muncy fails to keep his 1st base gig, Bellinger moves to 1st base, and Joc takes over in LF with Hernandez getting the left-hand at-bats.
That all seems good, right?
How about now.
Pollock is the CF, Bellinger is the LF, Verdugo is the RF, and Toles is the insurance. If Pollock gets hurt, Bellinger moves to CF, and Toles takes the at-bats against right-hand pitching, with Hernandez taking the left-hand at-bats. If Verdugo fails to keep his starting job, Toles can play RF or Bellinger can play RF, with Hernandez getting the left-hand at-bats. If Muncy fails to keep his 1st base gig, Bellinger moves to 1st base, and Toles takes over in LF with Hernandez getting the left-hand at-bats.
That is okay, not great but okay.
How about if Joc is traded and both Pollock and Toles get hurt? Verdugo/Bellinger/Hernandez
How about if Joc is traded and Verdugo fails to keep his job and Toles get hurt while replacing him? Bellinger/Pollock/Hernandez
How about if Joc is traded and Verdugo fails to keep his job and Muncy fails to keep his job?Hernandez/Pollock/Toles
How about if Joc is traded, Pollock gets hurt and Verdugo fails to keep his starting job? Toles/Bellinger/Hernandez
How about if Joc is traded, Muncy and Verdugo fail to keep their jobs?Toles/Pollock/Hernandez
That is palatable just not ideal for me.
This might be different if the Dodgers had acquired a second baseman like Scooter or signed one of the many second basemen available this winter but they didn’t which means that one of Chris Taylor or Hernandez has to play 2nd base.
Now that I’ve finished this exercise I do feel better if the Dodgers trade Joc but I still hope they don’t because I really liked the gains that I saw from Joc last year and would rather he be the fallback.