The Atlanta Braves have acquired outfielder Joc Pederson from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for first baseman Bryce Ball.
The Cubs signed Pederson this winter to replace the non-tendered Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber ended up an all-star, while Pederson was overall disappointing. He earns $7 million this year, with a mutual option next year worth $10 million with a $2.5 million buyout. The Cubs have fallen out of the playoff race and have signaled themselves as sellers. Pederson is the first domino to fall, but Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel, and Javy Baez are also options to trade away. Pederson is a left-handed power bat in the outfield who hit 36 home runs in 2019 but has been in a two-year slump since. The Cubs are able to get back Ball, who MLB Pipeline ranked as Atlanta’s number 12 prospect. The big, six-foot-six left-handed bat has struggled a bit in Low-A this year but had an OPS well over 1.000 in his first professional season of 2019. That was the same year the Braves snagged him in the 24th round from Dallas Baptist.
Ball, 23, has hit six home runs with a .354 OBP and a .750 OPS in 212 Plate Appearances for High-A Rome in 2021. In his minor league career, Ball has hit 23 home runs with a .377 OBP and a .907 OPS in 475 Plate Appearances.
The Braves have been ravaged by injuries. Just before the all-star break, they had their worst one yet, as Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his ACL. The team is 44-45 and four games back of the Mets for first place in the division. But still, they believe that they can make the playoffs. Pederson brings pop to their lineup from the left side. Even if the team fails this year, they have the opportunity to bring him back. The cost? Just a late-round draft pick from two years ago.
Pederson, 29, has hit 11 home runs with a .300 OBP and a .718 OPS in 287 Plate Appearances for the Cubs this season. In his MLB career for the Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers, Pederson has hit 141 home runs with a .332 OBP and a .797 OPS in 2804 Plate Appearances.