A swing, a flare single, a sheepish grin and baby-faced Joc Pederson had the first hit of his MLB career. And the most excited one in the park? Yasiel Puig.
One cornerstone of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfield showing respect, potentially, for the other. If successful, Pederson represents the second half of GM Ned Coletti’s rebuilding process – generating talent from within the farm system to go with deep-pocketed signings. The more starts he records this season, the more interesting the offseason becomes.
Here’s a number for you: $60,607,143. That’s the total salary owed to three outfielders (Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Eithier) who could all be playing for different teams next season. If Pederson plays well over the next month heading into the playoffs, the chances greatly improve that Coletti makes a move to shed some of the salary, especially if they hope to join the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes.
Coletti has repeated that the Dodgers won’t spend aimlessly, but one would have to think a 24-year-old MVP candidate would be worth looking into. Pederson’s presence may not alter this season’s playoff race, but his implications could be felt for the foreseeable future if he plays well enough to convince Coletti to move one or more of the Dodgers’ more expensive outfielders.
A move will probably be made regardless of Pederson’s play. $60 million is quite a bit to spend on three outfielders considering only one of those three will play any given game. Kemp’s play has improved since moving to right field, but has it improved enough to take his team out of contention for the game’s best right fielder? Manager Don Mattingly has had nothing but high praise for Ethier’s willingness to come off the bench, but is chemistry worth $18 million?
Dodgers have the best pitcher alive (Clayton Kershaw), a couple of the game’s most exciting and productive, young position players (Puig and Dee Gordon) and a swelling fanbase from what could be two-consecutive deep playoff runs. And if those factors aren’t reason enough, Los Angeles icon Vin Scully has agreed to come back for what could be his final season. What better way to send off the game’s greatest voice than with an outfield consisting of Puig and Stanton?
The Dodgers will undoubtedly have to eat some of whoever’s salary should they make such a move, but in baseball, windows open and close faster than A.J. Ellis can kill a rally. If Pederson shows well, they could potential enter next season with him in center and Puig and Stanton flanking him.
Kershaw threw another ho-hum eight-inning, eight strikeout, one earned-run gem. Kenley Jansen came in for the save and Pederson ended his game 1-for-3. The game brings the Dodgers within one game of the Washington Nationals for the best record in the National League and two ahead of the San Francisco Giants for best record in the NL West. But come this offseason, we could look back on a Tuesday night in September as the night that helped convince the Dodgers to pursue Stanton. No pressure, kid.
Anthony F. Irwin is an NBA, NFL, MLB and NCAA Football contributor for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Send him an email at Anthony.F.Irwin@gmail.com.