PHOENIX -- The D-backs are counting on Joc Pederson to improve their team, and Pederson, for his part, is looking to the Arizona coaching staff, particularly outfield coach Dave McKay, to make him better.
Pederson’s free-agent deal with the D-backs, agreed to last week, became official Tuesday.
The one-year deal includes a mutual option for 2025 and is worth at least $12.5 million. Pederson will make $9.5 million in '24 and will receive a $3 million buyout if he and the team both don't exercise the $14 million option for '25.
Pederson said that he had offers from other teams that were for multiple years, but he prefers signing one-year deals.
“I kinda enjoy the flexibility,” Pederson said. “I think you only get to play this game so long -- it would suck to sign a long-term deal in a place that you don't want to be, and you’re giving away years of such a small window that you either get frustrated or in a spot [where you’re] unhappy. I like to choose my spots up where I think it's the best fit physically, emotionally, mentally, everything, family and all that. Those variables change yearly.”
While Pederson did play some outfield over the past two seasons with the Giants, defense has not been his calling card. The D-backs signed him because of his bat, and he will likely see most of his time as the designated hitter.
Arizona general manager Mike Hazen, however, said that he told Pederson that he would have the opportunity to compete for time in the outfield and show he can hit left-handed pitching.
When it comes to his defense, Pederson is looking forward to working with McKay, who is regarded as among the best in the game, if not the best, when it comes to working with outfielders.
“I've gotten to know him over the years playing against him,” Pederson said. “I've heard so many good things and seen it in action. I’ve seen him help lot of guys steal a good amount of bases that aren't necessarily like speedsters. I've seen him make huge improvements in the outfield with some guys that weren't as good, and I've seen him really lock in some of the guys that are more skilled. So even if I don't get a lot of opportunities on the field, I'll be putting the work in with him, and then when the opportunities present itself, make the best of them and go from there.”
Pederson brings a postseason pedigree to the D-backs, who won the final NL Wild Card spot last year and made it all the way to the World Series before falling to the Rangers in five games.
Pederson has played in four World Series and won two of them. In 2020, Pederson earned the nickname “Joctober” after he hit .382 with two home runs and eight RBIs during the Dodgers' World Series run. A year later, Pederson would build on his postseason legacy with three more home runs in the playoffs for the Braves during their World Series-winning '21 campaign.
“They obviously were really close -- I mean they got as close as they can get, and you just want to build on that,” Pederson said of the D-backs. “Sometimes if you win, they call it a World Series slump the next year. When you lose [the World Series], I think it adds to the hunger of wanting it even more. It kind of reminds me of the Royals a few years back when they lost [in 2014] and then they came back and won one the next year. This is a group that is very capable of doing that.”
All the moves mean the D-backs will have their highest Opening Day payroll ever, and they might not be done yet.
“We'll see,” Hazen said. “The offseason is not over yet. We still think there's some holes that we need to continue to build out. Bench-wise, maybe looking at some of the right-handed [hitting] options, potentially at some point. We talked about spending some attention on the bullpen, building out some depth there. So, still working to continue to improve the roster any way we can.”