Los Angeles Dodgers: How Josh Donaldson and Joc Pederson are linked

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 18: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Atlanta Braves smiles to the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout in the first inning at SunTrust Park on August 18, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 18: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Atlanta Braves smiles to the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout in the first inning at SunTrust Park on August 18, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /

Josh Donaldson is the biggest available free agent remaining this offseason and has been linked to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and in a sense, Joc Pederson.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have made one move this offseason — signing Blake Treinen to a one-year contract for the 2020 season. Outside of that, the Dodgers have been rather inactive, although there is speculation on what is to come next.

There were rumors and rumblings of the Dodgers potentially trading for Francisco Lindor or Mookie Betts, however, as time continues to pass it seems less and less likely that the Dodgers would pull off the blockbuster during the offseason.

The front office may elect to not do anything the rest of the offseason, roll the 2019 team back out there in 2020 and then address what the team needs to add at the deadline. While that is an unpopular thing to do for the fans, it would give the front office a better estimation of what are true needs and are not true needs.

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It can be hard to gauge what exactly the team needs when there are so many talented young players on the team that could step up and fill holes that we think the team has right now.

Or, the Los Angeles Dodgers could sign a former MVP in slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson is the biggest name that is still available on the free-agent market and would make sense for the Dodgers in several ways.

First of all, his age is helpful. Donaldson is not going to get a long-term contract and at the most is probably going to get a four-year contract, maybe with a fifth-year team option. That would be perfect for the Dodgers, who have not committed to long-term contracts before as the team wants to be able to extend the franchise players that they already have.

Second of all, he would be a nice replacement to Justin Turner, whose contract expires after this season. Donaldson would likely get slightly more than Turner is currently getting per season, so once Turner’s contract is up, the Dodgers would not even be taking on that much more money than they currently are.

That right-handed factor is what makes Donaldson so valuable. The Dodgers could really use a middle of the order right-handed bat that can hit between Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy, especially now that the MLB adopted the three-batter minimum rule.

He may no longer be prime Donaldson but he still hit 37 home runs and drove in 94 RBIs last season. Donaldson was linked to the Dodgers very early in the free-agent period before there were even any reports on Anthony Rendon and the Dodgers, which could mean that the Dodgers were focused on Donaldson as the cheaper option, similar to last winter with A.J. Pollock.

Signing Donaldson would shuffle some pieces around as he would assume third base duties, moving Justin Turner to first base and likely moving Max Muncy to be the full-time second baseman.

The one player that then needs to find a new home is Gavin Lux, who Dave Roberts already said is in the mix for the outfield in 2020. That creates our link from Josh Donaldson to Joc Pederson, as Lux moving to the outfield would likely signal a potential move for Pederson.

Pederson has been involved in trade rumors since last winter because of him being unusable against left-handed pitching and not fitting the Dodgers’ versatile player mold. With only one year left under contract, I could absolutely see the Dodgers look to do what they did with Yasiel Puig last winter and knock out two birds with one stone.

In this instance, the Dodgers could attempt to trade Pederson for help in the bullpen while also opening up a spot for Lux to play in the outfield. While as a fan of Pederson it would be tough to see him go, it would be better than simply letting him sign with another team next offseason for nothing.

Pederson’s power would be instantly replaced by Donaldson, which would be a more reliable power option as he does not need to be platooned. Meanwhile, Lux could become one half of a platoon with A.J. Pollock in left field, leaving Alex Verdugo to be the everyday centerfielder.

Pollock is great against lefties but not so great against righties and Verdugo hits both righties and lefties great. With Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez and Matt Beaty also providing depth in the outfield, the Dodgers could easily afford to move on from Pederson.

I don’t think the Los Angeles Dodgers would trade Pederson just to trade him, but I absolutely can see a masterplan where the team trades one year of an outfielder to make room for a new free agent while also getting value in return from the trade.

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They did the exact same thing last winter. What is that saying about history repeating itself?