While the White Sox wait on a former Los Angeles Dodger to make his much-anticipated free-agent decision, they're reportedly talking with the Dodgers about a current member of their roster.
According to Jason Kinander and later backed up by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox are having conversations with the Dodgers about a potential trade that would bring outfielder Joc Pederson to the South Side.
On rumors of Joc Pederson trade to #WhiteSox: #Dodgers have been discussing Pederson in possible deals, rival executives say. CWS one of clubs in those conversations, according to sources. Not known if talks are advanced to point where teams are close to a deal.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 20, 2019
Pederson has hit at least 25 home runs in three of the last four seasons, earning an All-Star spot during his rookie season in 2015. He showed more extra-base ability with a career-best .522 slugging percentage in 2018. Add that power to his outfield versatility — he played in all three spots last season — and that could certainly bring some value to the White Sox outfield, even if his .248 batting average and .321 on-base percentage leave something to be desired.
Top-ranked prospect Eloy Jimenez is ticketed for the everyday left-field job once his major league career begins a couple weeks into the 2019 season. The newly acquired Jon Jay figures to bring his high batting average and on-base skills on a daily basis, either in center field or left field, depending on the day-to-day need of manager Rick Renteria. But the rest of the outfield puzzle is tricky. Adam Engel was a Gold Glove finalist in center field, but he's spent the majority of his two seasons on the South Side struggling offensively. Daniel Palka, boxed out of the designated hitter spot by the tandem of Yonder Alonso and Jose Abreu, could get opportunity in right field after hitting 27 home runs as a rookie last season, but his defense needs improvement, something he's been working on since arriving in the big leagues.
Pederson could help stabilize that outfield mixture. He played in 148 regular-season games for the Dodgers in 2018 and got 42 plate appearances during the postseason, hitting a pair of home runs.
An element that's a bit of a head-scratcher is that Pederson has just two years of team control remaining before he hits the free-agent market following the 2020 season. That would make him a curious addition to the White Sox, who are constantly thinking about the long term. But should the organization's highly rated prospects reach the major leagues and find relatively instant success, and if a premier talent (like Manny Machado) arrives on the South Side this offseason or next offseason, the White Sox could potentially include Pederson as part of a contending roster.
Bringing in a former All Star like Pederson could also make the White Sox roster more attractive to Machado, who has yet to make a decision on where he will spend the better part of the next decade.
Another interesting aspect to the Dodgers' involvement is the still-undecided Bryce Harper, the other mega free agent on the market who the White Sox are pursuing, as well. The Dodgers were listed as a potential landing spot for Harper earlier this offseason but had a crowded outfield and an expensive payroll. They made a blockbuster trade with the Cincinnati Reds to help with both of those logjams, and trading another outfielder could allow the Dodgers to get into the Harper sweepstakes, which to this point has seemed to include just the White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals.
While the baseball offseason has seemed to move at a glacier pace, the White Sox have been active. They've acquired Alonso, Alex Colome and Ivan Nova via trade and signed free agents Jay and Kelvin Herrera. Adding Pederson would be another move that would improve on a roster that lost 100 games last season, but we'll see if these conversations end in a deal or not.