‘Dodgers hold on for World Series’ Arizona acquires former Dodgers starter Peterson

After knocking off the Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason last year to reach the World Series, the Arizona Diamondbacks are looking to continue their dominance this season. After adding a starting pitcher and an infielder, they’ve now added an outfielder. They’ve made a strategic acquisition in the form of former Los Angeles Dodger Jacob Pederson. The move came after the team realized that the starting rotations of its National League West rivals were largely filled with right-handed pitchers.

“A day after general manager Mike Hazen made it clear he wanted to add a bat, the Reds agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal with a mutual option for the 2025 season,” MLB reported, citing baseball sources.

“The A’s added third baseman Eugenio Suarez, left-handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez and re-signed Ruedes Gurriel Jr. to a one-year, mutual option for the 2025 season,” the report said, noting that the team won 84 games last year, reached the postseason and won the National League pennant.

The Dodgers have been the stars of the offseason, signing Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year, $700 million mega-deal, making a rare example of paying $680 million of it over the next 10 years, and then signing Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a whopping 12-year, $325 million deal. In the National League West, Arizona has been quietly bolstering its bullpen, though not as loudly as the Dodgers. The addition of Pederson is part of that.

Hazen said on Friday that he was looking for a designated hitter who could add to the offense, narrowing his target to “someone who can bat in the middle of the order.” Peterson is a slugger with 186 home runs in 1140 games over 10 seasons in the majors. He’s hit 38 home runs in 255 games over the past two years at Oracle Park, which is notoriously unfavorable to left-handed hitters. That’s second on the team behind right-handed hitter Wilmer Flores (42).

According to MLB, “Peterson has played the outfield for San Francisco the past two years, but he’s not a great defender. He’ll likely see most of his playing time as a designated hitter against right-handed pitching. He is one of the best left-handed hitters in the majors. While his 2023 numbers were disappointing (.235 batting average, 15 home runs), he’s a Statcast darling (96th percentile hard-hit percentage) and can still add to any team’s lineup.”

“After making his major league debut with the Dodgers in 2014, he had a breakout year the following year, making the National League All-Star team and hitting 26 home runs in his rookie campaign. In his seven seasons with the Dodgers, Pederson has hit over 25 home runs four times. In the 2020 World Series, he earned the nickname “Jobber” after batting .382 with two home runs and eight RBIs. In 2021, he added three more postseason home runs for the Atlanta Braves.”

He also chalked up last year’s struggles to “bad luck. MLB wrote, “Peterson will try to recreate his 2022 form in Arizona. That was his career-high season. He hit 23 home runs and a career-high 146 wRC+ (adjusted weighted run production, where 100 is the average). It was the ninth-highest among players with at least 400 plate appearances. While 2023 was a down year, there’s reason to believe it was more than just bad luck. His in-play batting average (.268) and home run/fly ball rate (13.3%) were both below his career averages.”

ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote, “Arizona is interested in Peterson because he has consistently been strong against right-handed pitching. That value increases when you look at a rival’s rotation.” The Dodgers have four right-handed pitchers in Tyler Glasnow, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Walker Buehler, and Bobby Miller, and only James Paxton is a left-handed starter. Even the San Diego Padres have Joe Musgrove, Darvish Yu, Michael King, Matt Waldron, and Pedro Avila all right-handed.

Pederson has had a “righty sniper” of a career. His career numbers against right-handed pitching are a .242 batting average, .834 OPS, and 172 home runs. Against left-handed pitchers, he hit just .209 with a .622 OPS and 14 home runs.

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