Arizona Diamondbacks’ Mike Hazen on Joc Pederson: ‘It’s good to have him on our side’
Jan 30, 2024, 6:54 PM | Updated: 6:54 pm
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
The Arizona Diamondbacks have seen a lot of Joc Pederson throughout his career. Having spent his entire career in the National League, the left-handed slugger has played the D-backs 115 times and has hit .225 with 75 hits, 18 home runs, 42 RBIs and 54 runs scored during spells with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2014-20), Chicago Cubs (2021), Atlanta Braves (2021) and San Francisco Giants (2022-23).
After the D-backs announced the signing of Pederson to a one-year, $9.5 million deal with a mutual option for 2025 on Tuesday, general manager Mike Hazen addressed Pederson’s history against his side, how the slugger fits into the lineup and the role Pederson could play on the reigning National League champions.
At Chase Field, Pederson has hit .214 with 36 hits, nine home runs, 18 RBIs and 28 runs scored in 56 games in his career.
“I’ve always appreciated the energy and competitiveness and the hit ability from across the field,” Hazen told reporters. “I mean, seems like he’s worn us out. He’s been in the division for so long. We’ve seen him all the time. It’s good to have him on our side.”
Not only did Hazen speak of the 31-year-old’s success against Arizona in his career, but he also mentioned how the move makes sense from a roster construction standpoint.
After signing right-handed infielder Eugenio Suárez and bringing back right-handed outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., earlier in the offseason, the acquisition of Pederson adds balance to a right-handed heavy Diamondbacks lineup.
“Bringing Lourdes back and Eugenio filling in the right-handed [bats], the middle part of the our lineup was getting very right-handed,” Hazen said. “He does an incredible job of hitting righties. It felt like the division was going to stack up pretty right-handed dominant, we felt like this was going to be a good fit. Keep Corbin [Carroll] and Ketel [Marte] where they need to be, keep Alek [Thomas] and [Geraldo] Perdomo where they need to be. It was just a good fit for us.”
Hazen said Pederson wants to prove he can play in the outfield too. Last year he played 37 games in the outfield and 79 games as the DH in San Francisco, but the team hasn’t made any final determinations on if Pederson is only going to start against righties. Last season, he significantly struggled against left-handed pitching, slashing .186/.327/.279.
“Torey [Lovullo] is going to deploy the roster as it needs to be deployed, but I’m interested to see what those competitive thoughts will turn themselves into coming into camp,” Hazen said. “I know he’s primarily DH’d in the last little bit here, so we’ll see where all that takes us. We have a competitive roster in terms of what could happen from a playing time standpoint.”
Pederson also spoke about how the move was also a good fit for him. The 31-year-old called the D-backs, “A young group that is hungry,” and spoke of the respect he has for the organization.
“I think it’s kind of common for players to stay in the division they’ve played in for a while because you gain a lot of respect for your opponents because you see how good they are.”
Out of Pederson’s 1,140 games as a professional, 1,003 of those have been while playing with NL West teams.
But Pederson said one of the main reasons he signed with the Diamondbacks was because of the opportunity to work with outfield coach Dave McKay.
“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.”
Another primary reason Pederson picked Arizona was due to the flexibility a one-year deal offered him.
While he had offers from other teams, Pederson said he didn’t want to commit to any place long-term.
“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.”
The Diamondbacks have spent a total of $134.5 million this offseason and while they already are set to have their highest payroll ever, Hazen suggested there might be more moves on the way.
“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.”