And so it begins...
It's been well documented that the Chicago Cubs are going to be sellers at the trade deadline, but most of that talk has focused around Craig Kimbrel and the Cubs core players: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras. Cubs fans knew the sell-off was inevitable, but Joc Pederson was not publicized talked very much in previous trade rumors.
That changed Thursday when the Cubs traded oufielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves for minor league first baseman Bryce Ball.
Ball, 23, is a career .278 hitter across 115 minor league games at the Advanced-A level in Atlanta's system. He has put together good power numbers in the minors so far, posting 23 home runs and 30 doubles with 82 RBIs. On top of that, Ball has a .377 OBP and .907 OPS. Even though he has endured struggles in 2021 (.220 average), the potential for growth is easy to see, and for the small price of a Joc Pederson rental, this move seems like a no-brainer for the Cubs.
This trade comes mostly as a surprise on the Braves end because they were also viewed as potential sellers, although this isn't a gamebreaking move. Pederson, who is on a one-year deal worth worth $7 million, is currently slashing .230/.300/.418 with 11 home runs in 2021. Pederson will fill a big gap in the Braves outfield after star player Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his ACL while Marcel Ozuna's off-field troubles persist. Even after a somewhat disappointing first half, the Braves remain just four games behind the Mets, who have scored the second-fewest runs in baseball.
Joc Pederson's tenure as a Chicago Cub was short lived, but it was an enjoyable ride. He brought much-needed energy to the team and also performed to his salary and expectations. If it weren't for a historic stretch of games for Kyle Schwarber with the Natioinals in June, the Pederson signing would have easily been seen as a win.