Cubs finalize deals with Joc, Williams, Chafin
CHICAGO -- The Cubs needed to address their outfield and inject some power into their lineup this offseason. That became even more of a glaring need following the decision to part ways with slugger Kyle Schwarber in December.
Chicago added a piece to the offensive puzzle on Friday, officially announcing a one-year contract with free agent Joc Pederson that includes a mutual option for 2022. The Cubs also announced agreements with right-hander Trevor Williams (one-year deal) and left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin (one-year deal with a mutual option for '22), bringing more clarity to the roster as Spring Training approaches.
To create room for all three players, the Cubs designated infielder Max Schrock for assignment.
Pederson's deal is worth $7 million guaranteed, split between a $4.5 million base salary for 2021 and a $2.5 million buyout of the option in '22 (worth $10 million if exercised), a source told MLB.com. The deal also includes up to $500,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances.
With Pederson in the fold, the North Siders project to field a starting outfield consisting of Jason Heyward in right, Ian Happ in center and Pederson occupying left. Pederson came up as a center fielder and can likely still offer depth up the middle, but he has not played the position with any regularity since 2018.
Pederson is coming off a rough showing in the abbreviated 2020 campaign (.190/.285/.397 in 43 games), but he rebounded with a strong October performance to help the Dodgers win the World Series. In the playoffs, Pederson hit .382 with a .991 OPS in 16 games, and he launched a critical homer in Game 5 of the Fall Classic.
The Cubs made the decision to non-tender Schwarber in December, rather than taking the left fielder to arbitration. It was projected that Schwarber could have earned around $8 million through that process, but he instead signed a one-year, $10 million pact with the Nationals as a free agent. His deal has a base salary of $7 million, plus a $3 million buyout for a 2022 mutual option ($11.5 million).
Schwarber and Pederson have similar career offensive numbers, though the latter is the better and more versatile defender. Pederson (24.2 percent career strikeout rate) also comes with a better career contact profile than Schwarber (28 percent career strikeout rate).
Pederson has pronounced splits, posting a 128 wRC+ in his career against righties compared to a 59 wRC+ against lefties. In his last full season in '19, Pederson slashed .252/.349/.517 off right-handers (464 plate appearances), with a .224/.240/.265 slash line off lefties (50 plate appearances).
For his career, which includes parts of seven years all with the Dodgers, Pederson has a .230/.336/.470 slash line with 130 homers and 303 RBIs in 748 games. That includes a .238 (.849 OPS) showing against righties and a .191 (.576 OPS) against lefties. His 131 wRC+ off right-handers across 2018-20 ranked 23rd among qualified MLB hitters.
Last year, Pederson spent his time in left field (minus two DRS in 165 innings) and right field (one DRS in 46 innings). One season earlier, he compiled 12 DRS between the corner spots (six each in left and right) with a 13.2 UZR/150 overall. Pederson also has some first base on his defensive resume.
Earlier this offseason, the Cubs also claimed Phillip Ervin off waivers from the Mariners, adding a righty bat capable of manning all three outfield spots. Ervin also offers a potential option against left-handed pitching (.811 career OPS) for the Cubs, who could also utilize Kris Bryant (corners) and Nico Hoerner (center) in the outfield at times.