Posted on February 5, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine

Joc Pederson
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Tuesday was a busy night for the Los Angeles Dodgers, to say the least. After completing a blockbuster trade that landed them Mookie Betts and David Price from the Red Sox, the Dodgers pivoted and pulled off another trade with the Los Angeles Angels. In its current state, the trade will send outfielder Joc Pederson, pitcher Ross Stripling, and outfield prospect Andy Pages to the Angels while the Dodgers will receive infielder Luis Rengifo.

Obviously, Pederson is the headliner of the deal. With the Dodgers adding Betts to an outfield that also includes A.J. Pollock and Cody Bellinger, there wouldn’t be much playing time available for Pederson. Even with the Dodgers also sending young outfielder Alex Verdugo to Boston, Pederson would have been on better than a fourth outfielder with the Dodgers next season, making him expendable and a useful trade chip.

Of course, the 27-year-old Pederson is coming off perhaps the best season of his career. He endured some troubles during the 2017 campaign but has bounced back with two straight productive years with the Dodgers. During the 2019 season, he hit .249 with a career-high 34 home runs, helping him produce an OPS of .876. While he still looks to hit the ball out of the park, Pederson’s strikeout rate has come down significantly from earlier in his career. The only downside is the Angels are only getting him for one year before he becomes a free agent.

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Nevertheless, the Angels have improved their lineup considerably. Pederson will become the team’s primary right fielder, providing an upgrade over Kole Calhoun, who played that role last season. The Halos now have an outfield of Pederson, Mike Trout, and Justin Upton, which could be one of the best in the American League this season. They also add more depth to their lineup behind Trout, Upton, and new addition Anthony Rendon.

The addition of Pederson will push Brian Goodwin into the fourth outfield spot. Goodwin appeared to be in line to be the primary right fielder before the trade. But he may be better suited for a part-time role. Trading for Pederson will also help the Angels avoid rushing top prospect Jo Adell to the majors. In theory, he could spend most of the season in triple-A and take over right field from Pederson next season as a more polished player.

As for Stripling, he’s served as both a starter and reliever with the Dodgers. Over 15 starts and 17 relief outings in 2019, he posted a 3.47 ERA, performing slightly better out of the bullpen but being effective in both roles. With the Angels, he may have to fight for a spot in the starting rotation out of the gate. However, he’ll serve as reliable depth for a team that’s seen its rotation be ripped apart by injuries in recent years.

In Rengifo, the Dodgers will be getting a young and useful infielder. He doesn’t offer much power but he’s been a productive hitter in the minors. Rengifo is also an above-average second baseman who can also play shortstop and third base while also spending some time in the outfield. He hit .238 with an OPS of .685 in his first season in the majors last year. Rengifo figures to be a useful utility man in the future, although he may not make the opening day roster for the Dodgers.

Obviously, the Dodgers didn’t make this trade to get better in the short run. They merely wanted to move Pederson and save a little money rather than having him be a part-time player. Meanwhile, this trade gives the Angels a significant boost heading into the season. Pederson adds to the depth and power in their lineup while giving them one of the most formidable outfields in baseball. With this deal, the Angels have improved their chances of competing for a playoff spot in 2020 in a meaningful way.

Editor’s note: This trade was dependent on the three-team trade involving the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Twins. After that trade was called off, this trade also fell through and won’t be completed.

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