The Cincinnati Reds offseason has been full of excitement in an offseason where most of baseball has been incredibly slow-paced and boring. The Reds made a huge trade with the Dodgers to acquire Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer. The team also acquired starting pitcher Tanner Roark from the Nationals. And just this weekend they finally grabbed Sonny Gray from the Yankees, and signed him to an extension. Without the Reds, Major League Baseball may not even have had a stove that worked, much less a hot one. And the team says that they aren’t done yet, either. They are still looking at center field options. But Joc Pederson seems to be available, and he’s played center in the majors before.

Internally, the Reds have stated they believe they have options. There’s been talk that Yasiel Puig or Scott Schebler could be played in center. Top prospect Nick Senzel could be an option and has been in Arizona all offseason working on learning the position. Phillip Ervin has also been mentioned as a potential option. That hasn’t stopped the team from saying they are still looking, though. And that probably tells you how comfortable that they are with any of those options in center field on a daily basis.

That brings us back to Joc Pederson, who is reportedly being shopped around by the Dodgers, according to Michael Duarte of NBC Los Angeles.

He doesn’t mention the teams that have been contacted, but would it surprise anyone if the Reds were one of them. It seems that over the last two years the Dodgers and Reds have been involved in about 10 trades with each other.

In 2018, Joc Pederson saw a lot more time in left field than in center field. But prior to that, almost all of his time in the field came in center for the Dodgers. In his four year career there’s been some wild swings in just how he’s performed on defense according to the various metrics. Let’s take a quick look at how he’s rated out defensively in UZR/150 at Fangraphs, Statcasts Outs Above Average, and Baseball Reference’s defensive WAR component:

The reason that it’s listed as N/A in 2018 for UZR/150 was because most of his time came in left, and not in center – and that’s more of the question we’re trying to answer. And because of how it’s calculated, he’s being compared to other left fielders and not other center fielders. The Statcast Outs Above Average N/A is because it didn’t exist in 2015.

In 2017 the UZR/150 and Statcast numbers have him among the worst fielders in baseball. But just a year prior to that, he was slightly above-average. In 2018 Statcast ranked him again near the bottom on defense despite moving from center to left. In theory, that shouldn’t have played out that way. But it did.

This brings up the question of, what the heck happened? The first thing that comes to mind is that perhaps Joc Pederson lost some speed between 2015/16 to 2017/18. To get an idea on that we can look at some different Statcast data. They have two different speed metrics. First is sprint speed. In that we do see that in 2015 he was ever so slightly above-average in the category at 27.2 feet per second. That dropped to 26.5 in 2016 and 2017, then to 26.3 in 2018.

In the other Statcast speed category, 90-foot running splits, things look similar. During 2018 he was slightly worse than middle-of-the-pack at 4.07 seconds. In 2017 he was at 4.05 seconds. This data is not available prior to the 2017 season. But both metrics seems to suggest that when it comes to speed, Joc Pederson simply isn’t more than an average runner – if that.

That’s quite a bit slower than some of the other options available to the Cincinnati Reds. Phillip Ervin is the fastest player on the team in the 90-foot running splits at 3.87 seconds. Jose Peraza is just behind him at 3.88. Scott Schebler is close behind at 3.91 seconds. Yasiel Puig would be next at 3.95. To give a little more perspective, Billy Hamilton was at 3.75 seconds, while Tucker Barnhart was at the bottom among the Reds at 4.30 seconds.

Speed isn’t everything when it comes to center field defense. There’s certainly a bare minimum that is needed for the position, but pure speed isn’t what makes or breaks a player at the position. Being able to read the ball off of the bat is important. The ability to know where the ball will land and running directly to that spot is important. The ability to turn your hips and get up to speed (which is not measured in either of the speed categories) is very important.

The Reds certainly have some guys who are fast among the group of internal candidates in center. But despite that, they still don’t seem to trust any of them out there on a daily basis. Perhaps that changes when the spring gets going and there are better looks at everyone out there. But for now, it seems that things are still up in the air, and that Joc Pederson probably isn’t the answer to the question, either.

Photo of Joc Pederson by Arturo Pardavila III. Licensing for the photo can be found here.

20 Responses

  1. JoJo

    If they wanted him, they would’ve figured out how to include him in the other trade, probably by adding another prospect

  2. Matthew

    I too agree with this, but would there be any harm in trading for Pederson? We have a plethora of OF’s now, but Joc played center regularly in LA. None of our other guys have done this.

  3. JB WV

    Schebler can do it and likes playing there. Trade Kemp for whatever to lose that salary, Senzel can back up Schebler and anyone on the infield.

    • Ron Payne

      I agree that Schebler would be the best in-house candidate.
      Some possibilities via trade:
      1 Ramon Laureano (A’s) .288/.358/.832
      2 Mallex Smith (Mariners) .296/..367/.773
      3 Brandon Nimmo (Mets) .263/.404/.886

      • Jbrat22

        I too have been interested in Ramon Laureano. The A’s have Dustin Fowler (a ML-ready top-100 prospect) behind him in CF and, as someone mentioned above, need pitching. I was hoping the Reds might trade some combination of young SP for him. The only bad thing I’ve seen about Laureano is he had a very high BABIP last year, so the numbers could come down.

        Nimmo is pretty bad defensively in CF and would cost a ton (he had 4.5 fWAR last year), and Mallex Smith was just acquired earlier in the offseason from TB and would also cost a ton.

    • JoJo

      I suspect that is they trade Kemp, they won’t be unloading any salary. They’ll be forced to eat it to get anything at all in return

  4. Choo Choo Coleman

    Keep Kemp. If he gets off to a great start, like last year, his value explodes at trade deadline time compared to now! His bat plays well in GABP! Now is NOT the time to flip him! Plus, I love to have more Alpha Dogs in the clubhouse other than Votto! Trade for Pederson… small OF at home & power surge bat! Senzel is an INF! Leave him be! Package Gennett, Stephenson and David Hernandez & maybe another lower level Minor leaguer

  5. Big Ed

    Why on earth would the Reds want another LH hitting outfielder? They already have Schebler and Winker, with both Gennett and Votto also in the lineup.

    • Choo Choo Coleman

      Did you see the Cubs lineup last year?

    • Doug Gray

      Because they currently don’t have a center fielder and need one?

      • Big Ed

        Pederson isn’t exactly Cesar Geronimo in center.

        Having 5 LH hitters, plus Barnhart, would result in their using 3 or 4 LH hitters against LH starters. Plus, they would be particularly vulnerable to LH relievers. Votto struggled mightily against lefties last year.

        Remember in the World Series how the Dodgers against lefties sat somebof their best hitters?

        This is a team construction mistake that they don’t need to make.

      • sixpack2

        Doug, Do you believe his Bat or field would be better than Schebler? From everything presented, I don’t. Maybe I over think this but, unless a great upgrade happens Schebler in CF with Williams backing him up for late game moves.

  6. Ryan

    It’s time to pay up and get AJ Pollock. We need some defense up the middle, and Pollock gives you quality defense and solid power with his bat. Plus he can always be moved to RF next season if Trammel or Siri are ready. For the next two seasons, the free agent market is looking barren in CF (and corner spots for that matter too). I think it would be worth it to have Pollock bridge the gap until Trammel or Siri are ready or in case neither one works out or is traded.

  7. Earl

    I think Joc Pederson would benefit from some home cooking home runs playing in GA instead of Dodger stadium.


    Not sure I understand all these names…even though some of them are intriguing. It seems that Senzel is the obvious answer. I mean he is not moving either Scooter off 2nd or Suarez off 3rd is he? And it seems he is not really a SS. Soooo, the answer is clear, the guy who every publication says is our best prospect. And happens to be top ten in all of baseball. The obligatory 2 weeks in Louisville certainly won’t deter him from moving straight into the lineup once he arrives would it?

    No, if we are not done yet, well wouldn’t it stand to reason the FO would be targeting either one more reliever, a SS or Keuchel? (And It seems with Gray in tow that would be a remote possibility) Unless, of course, we don’t really believe Senzel is ready. It seems there is no reason for him to linger in Louisville. Or, is it possible the scouting team has questions, or his vertigo is still a concern?

    Are we really ready to begin ST? Seems realllllly close. Of course, short of either Keuchel or Machado being added! Ha haaaa! What a bombshell that would be!!!

  9. Mark Brown

    Can someone tell me why Adam Jones isn’t getting talked about as a possibility? I haven’t kept up on the rumors with him but he has a lot of experience in center and still hit .280 last year. Is his price tag to high or something?

    • Doug Gray

      Because he’s not a center fielder anymore and the Reds don’t need any more corner guys.

  10. Matt Mahaffey

    I agree. Between Puig, Schebler, and possibly Senzel, I think were covered. We cant compare Billy Hamilton’s defense to anything we might see this year. Not even close. However, the offensive production we get from any of the above three will far outweigh.

  11. Michael

    so now that Billy is gone, we are moving Peraza back to hitting behind the pitcher….stop this nonsense.