MLB Trade Deadline: Joc Pederson trade shows Braves aren’t waving white flag just yet


Talking Chop 16 July, 2021 - 07:00am 14 views

Who did the Cubs trade for Joc Pederson?

The Chicago Cubs have traded outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Bryce Ball, the teams announced on Thursday. In 73 games for Chicago this year, Pederson slashed .230/.300/.418 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs. The AthleticCubs trade Joc Pederson to Braves for prospect Bryce Ball

MLB trade deadline: Braves get Joc Pederson in trade with Cubs to replace injured Ronald Acuña Jr.

CBS Sports 16 July, 2021 - 09:01am

The Chicago Cubs have started their trade deadline fire sale. The club has traded outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves for first base prospect Bryce Ball, both teams announced. Pederson will help replace Ronald Acuña Jr., who went down with a season-ending knee injury last weekend.

Pederson, 29, is hitting .230/.300/.418 with 11 home runs this season, including an uncharacteristically poor .218/.285/.442 against righties. For his career, the lefty swinging Pederson owns a .236/.343/.495 batting line against righties and a feeble .203/.278/.314 line against lefties. He's spent most of his career in left field.

The Braves are currently without Acuña and also Marcell Ozuna, who is out with a finger injury and is awaiting an investigation under MLB's domestic violence policy. Following the Acuña injury, Atlanta was looking at some combination of Ehire Adrianza, Abraham Almonte, Orlando Arcia, Guillermo Heredia, and Ender Inciarte in the outfield.

Atlanta went into the All-Star break with a 44-45 record -- they have not spent a single day over .500 this season -- and they're four games behind the Mets in the NL East. Because the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres are so good, the division title is likely the only way the Braves can reach the postseason. The wild card is not a fallback plan.

The Cubs have lost 19 of their last 25 games to fall out of the NL Central race. They were expected to sell at the deadline and the Pederson trade confirms it will happen. Free agents-to-be like Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Kyle Davies, and Craig Kimbrel are most likely to be moved prior to July 30.

Ball, 23, is hitting .207/.354/.396 with six home runs in 53 High Class-A games this season. Our R.J. Anderson listed him as a prospect to know in Atlanta's system coming into the season, saying "his ability to walk and bop should give him a chance at a big-league future, and perhaps a notable one at that."

Pederson is still owed approximately $2.2 million of his $4.5 million salary this season. He'll be paid another $2.5 million if the Braves decline his $10 million mutual option is after the season, which they are expected to do.

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The Sell-Off Begins: Chicago Cubs Trade Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves 15 July, 2021 - 07:41pm

We told you it could be coming as soon as today, and just like that, smack in the face, it comes. The Chicago Cubs’ sell-off begins.

Tonight, the Chicago Cubs sent outfielder Joc Pederson to the outfield-needy Atlanta Braves for first base prospect Bryce Ball. With Ronald Acuna Jr. out (ACL surgery) and Marcell Ozuna unlikely to come back any time soon (domestic violence), the Braves needed an outfield bat ASAP if they were going to hang around in the race. Pederson is that bat, it seems.

In return, the Cubs are getting an enormous prospect in return. That is to say, Bryce Ball is physically huge – listed at 6’6″ and 240 lbs, but the amount his size comes up in everything you read makes you think he registers as even bigger. The just-turned-23-year-old first baseman was playing at High-A for the Braves, hitting .207/.354/.396 (112 wRC+) with a 27.8% K rate and an 18.9% BB rate.

A 24th rounder in 2019, Ball absolutely destroyed Rookie Ball and then Low-A in his debut, though with the lost 2020 season, it’s tough to say where his talent/projection/prospect-standing is. Coming into the season, though, he was highly regarded. Baseball America ranked Ball the Braves’ 18th best prospect, MLB Pipeline had him as the 12th best prospect, and FanGraphs had him as the 11th best prospect(!). And that’s not a bad Braves system! Ball is adding significant raw power to a Cubs farm system without a lot of it.

Ball spent last year at the alternate site for the Braves, so clearly they were pretty high on his near-term potential. That makes me wonder how it is that they soured on him so quickly that they’d trade him for a Joc Pederson rental. Which is not to say that Pederson doesn’t have value, especially if you’re trying to jump the market early to get him. But this return seems … too good to be true? Pederson has been split-neutral this year, which is nice, but the overall production has been slightly below average and the defense has been rough.

All the best to Pederson with the Braves, where he could easily break back out. Ultimately, he wound up being what the Cubs hoped he could be, along two possible paths: great and contribute to a winner (nope), or good enough to be traded for a nice prospect (check!).

Meanwhile, the Cubs will have no issue filling in left field with a combination of Ian Happ, Kris Bryant, and Jake Marisnick (Patrick Wisdom has also seen a little time out there). You wonder if/when Michael Hermosillo will get a chance to see some big league starts. That might be who the Cubs eye for left field after the Trade Deadline.

UPDATE: Multiple reports indicate that no cash is changing hands in the deal, which, if strictly true, would mean the Braves are not only on the hook for the $2 million remaining on Pederson’s 2021 deal, but also the $2.5 million for the mutual option buyout after the season. I have a hard time believing they actually took all that on, and my gut says the Cubs are chipping in the buyout (if it gets bought out), and that helps explain the prospect return.

For more prospective Cubs selling on the way, make sure you check out our Buyer’s Guide to the Chicago Cubs from earlier today.

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.

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Braves players who will be critical in the second half of 2021

Tomahawk Take 15 July, 2021 - 05:44am

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 04: Austin Riley #27, Max Fried #54, Abraham Almonte #34, and William Contreras #24 of the Atlanta Braves celebrate after winning against the Miami Marlins at Truist Park on July 4, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images)

Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

I’ll spare you from the standard “the 2021 season has not gone the way the Atlanta Braves were hoping it would” speech. I think we’ve heard that enough on this page and from everyone else on the internet. I’ll just say that football season is right around the corner and soon we can all “forget” about the Braves and enjoy our favorite college or NFL teams (which might lead to more heartbreak, but that’s beside the point).

The 2021 All-Star break wraps up on Friday for the Braves, and they will return home to start the second half of the season by taking on the defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays. They will have to do so now without star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. available for the rest of the year after suffering an ACL tear against the Miami Marlins.

Replacing the production and energy of a guy like Ronnie will not be an easy task, especially when the Braves’ playoff hopes were already looking thin with him healthy. However, the Braves still have great hitters and leaders in the lineup like All-Stars Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies that have proven they can step up.

In short, the entire team will need to step up to have a chance at a postseason run. Not one pitcher, hitter, or coach is exempt.

These are just a few names on the roster who need to play their best baseball from now until the end of the season to give the Braves a fighting chance for Chop-tober to become a reality.

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