Braves trade Bryce Ball; acquire Joc Pederson from Cubs

Last night big news came out of the majors as it was reported that the Braves had completed a deal with the Cubs, sending prospect first baseman Bryce Ball to Chicago in exchange for big league outfielder Joc Pederson.

Thursday night’s trade does two things: 1) it confirms that, at just 3 ½ games back in the division, the Braves are still all-in on contending this season… and… 2) that first baseman and franchise player Freddie Freeman is likely staying in Atlanta, even though “official” extension talks haven’t reportedly taken place.

In terms of this being a good or bad trade, obviously there’s no way to know at this point; however, I believe GM Alex Anthopoulos did really well with this deal. No money exchanges hands in this trade and Pederson is only owed $1.84 million for the rest of this season, to go with a $10-million mutual option for the 2022 campaign (featuring a $2.5-million buyout). For the financially-stingy Braves, adding Pederson doesn’t really impact this year’s payroll at all, which means Anthopoulos should have plenty of cash left in his “mid-season budget”.

Then there’s Pederson himself. As a defender, it’s likely he winds up at one of the corner-outfield spots in Atlanta, with Guillermo Heredia handling center field duties and a combination of Orlando Arcia, Ender Inciarte, Ehire Adrianza or Abraham Almonte taking care of the other corner spot. Of his 73 total games so far this season with the Cubs, Pederson has played 66 in left, featuring below-average defense, according to FanGraphs (-4.7 UZR/150), although his 14 innings of work in right is much, much worse,  albeit in a small sample-size (-38.3 UZR/150). Sticking Pederson in left field seems like the likely scenario.

Offensively, most of us are aware of the type of player Pederson is. Overall this season he’s having a bit of a below-average year, hitting .230 at the plate with 11 homers and 39 RBI in 287 PA, good for a 95 wRC+ (roughly 20 points below his career 116 wRC+). As a lefty-hitter, Pederson’s platoon-splits have always been pretty drastic as teams deployed him primarily versus right-handed pitchers, and rightfully so given his 125 wRC+ against that flavor of pitching, compared to just a 64 wRC+ versus southpaws. However, this season Pederson’s splits, at least in terms of overall offensive production, aren’t as dramatic. Even though all 11 of his home runs this year have come while facing righties, Pederson has posted a 95 wRC+ against BOTH handiness in 2021, and his plate discipline rates are nearly identical as well. We’ll see how the Braves plan to use him. Pederson could simply become an everyday player, or Anthopoulos could make another move to give him an additional option as a right-handed hitter.

Of course the bad news is that Ball’s tenure as a Brave is over. Ranked 14th on my Braves Top 30 this summer, Ball exploded onto the scene back in 2019 as a 24th round pick. The then 20-year-old destroyed rookie ball and put up video game-like numbers in Single-A, hitting .329 overall with 17 homers in his first 62 games as a pro in ’19. It’s been documented that Ball was having a down year with High-A Rome in 2021 (.207 AVG), but this trade comes right as he was beginning to show signs of life. I hate to see Ball go, but just the simple fact that this move essentially confirms Freeman is staying with the Braves is enough to make me feel okay about moving such an imposing hitting prospect.

All-in-all, it’s always a good thing when the team is trying to get better. And this deal definitely does that. I’ll be at all three games this weekend, so I’m excited to see Pederson in person. Hopefully he provides a nice spark for the Braves as they begin the second-half of its season.

71 thoughts on “Braves trade Bryce Ball; acquire Joc Pederson from Cubs”

  1. Just dropping this here but I talk with a good source behind the scenes a lot and Braves are casting their net wide. They have every intention on competing and have discussed Bryan Reynolds. If they’re discussing players like him, we could be in for a fun deadline.

  2. Thanks, Clint. I wish I shared your optimism that this signing ensures that they will re-sign Freeman. Although I hope and expect that Freddie will remain a Brave, I cannot believe that they would let him walk because they had an in-house replacement for him in Bryce Ball.

    I don’t have a lot of optimism that Ball will ever be a productive big leaguer; I am confident he won’t be ready next year. Even if Ball had remained in the system, they were going to have to look elsewhere to replace Freddie. In other words, I doubt this tells us anything one way or the other about Freddie’s future as a Brave.

  3. Interesting that the Cubs have a nearly identical record and they’re selling. But they’re 8 games back in the Central and we’re only 4 games back. So clearly the Braves value winning the division…. for some reason. They know the interest in Martin, Greene, Morton, Smyly and maybe even Freddie, so they clearly know more than me. But if you can replenish and strengthen the farm system, sign Freddie back in the offseason, and all you’ve done is punted on a season that you can’t win anyway. I don’t get it. I don’t like it.

    And I also think not selling makes it LESS likely they’ll sign Freddie in the offseason. The only reason you wouldn’t give Freddie all the money is you feel like your farm can’t fill needs elsewhere. Well, hows about we do that now?

  4. @1–this signing is indeed a signal that they are buyers who hope to compete for the division this year. But as you and many others have pointed out, it will take at least one other good outfield bat. Reynolds would be great, although he would cost a lot more than Pederson.

    My hunch is that they are waiting a couple of weeks to decide whether to go all in. They needed to sign Pederson to be competitive at all in the next two weeks. They did that without paying a big price. If the team goes, say, 4-10 the next couple of weeks and drops further behind (a likely scenario), they may even sell. If in two weeks they are still around .500 and still 4-5 games out, I doubt they will be willing to part with any significant prospects. But if they’re within a game or two, then go for it.

  5. I assume the Braves value winning the division because once you’re playing in October you could go all the way. JonathanF has convinced me (but apparently no one else) that the playoffs truly are a crapshoot. Or at least if you’re in, good luck in a small sample size gives mediocre teams a better chance to win than most folks assume.

  6. @6
    Mazara is the type of player that you grab, stash at AAA, and see if the hitting coaches can fix his swing like they did Arcia’s.

    Also, Braves 40-man is back to full:

  7. Certainly not a huge gamble with Peterson .. Ball likely not to be a big hit .. 1 year not alot of money . So why not .. as long as we add more

  8. Reynolds is 26 and would fit into our window nicely if we can keep him. I’m all onboard for that.

  9. Interested in the Athletic article (of which I only read the start bc paywall) saying that if the Twins don’t sign Buxton to a long-term contract, they’ll deal him either now or in the offseason. He’d be a real gamble, but one with tremendous upside if he could stay healthy. As a one-year rental, he could be like a one-year free agent (except younger than most of them), especially if the qualifying offer compensation is retained in the next CBA – trade prospects for him now or in the offseason, pay him for a year, then if you can’t extend him, let him go and get a draft pick for the QO that would partially make up for the prospects you gave up. Of course other teams would think that way too, so the price to get him might be high.

  10. I’ve seen it repeated several times that trading Ball means the Braves are definitely signing Freddie. I even read that getting Ball meant the Cubs were preparing to lose Rizzo. Come on now. He’s in A ball and a LONG way from the majors. The Braves could easily move Riley to 1B. Despite what Chip says he is not good defensively at 3B. Also, the Braves still have Mahki Backstrom in the system, a more athletic 1B prospect. Basically, this trade is just a trade…..it means nothing with regards to Freddie.

    The team will be easier to watch with an actual mlb outfielder, though Heredia has been a pleasant surprise….as has Arcia. (good hitting coaches).

    Now they need to get rid of Tomlin and call up Wilson to replace him. Tomlin is a giant negative…..plus Snit uses him in close games making it worse.

  11. Joc had a so so regular season last year and then got hot for the playoffs. Dodgers may not have won the ring without him. He does bring energy and may be the spark we need to get over the hump. Ball may have a great career, but that remains to be seen. Joc has been a productive major leaguer and right now we could use that. Hopefully we get on a roll and add another good piece to the puzzle. I believe division is still winnable. Let’s get that and go from there!

  12. I don’t think trading Ball ahs anything to do with Freeman. Ball wasn’t going to play in Atlanta for two more years, if ever.

    It would be really dumb not to sign Freeman. I think the front office knows that and will do it eventually. Maybe they wanted a look at how attendance would be.

  13. I’m seeing a good deal of new names galavanting around! Welcome! Pull up a stool and stay awhile.

  14. I don’t think this trade has anything to do with Freeman being resigned. Ball would not have taken over for him next year and is in fact years away from the Majors, if he makes it.

  15. Bryce Ball needed to have an OPS about 200 points higher than he did to remotely play into the picture of what Atlanta will do with the future of his position. He’s a 22-year old who wasn’t hitting in A+ while playing a position where you absolutely have to hit to even get to AA. Unfortunately for 1B prospects, the moment you stop crushing the ball, you go to the bottom of the pile, and rightfully so.

    A first baseman that doesn’t hit…

    What would you say, you do here?

  16. @17

    There’s also COVID protocols, which is what likely held him up. Word is he just got on plane.

  17. @20 Agreed that it doesn’t make sense but at least it’s better than Almonte.

    Snit’s insistence upon not changing anyone’s place in the lineup is really annoying. Honestly, Joc would be such a decent #5 hitter after Riley. I’d put Arcia at #1.

  18. Two things:

    And…

  19. Acuna was our first good leadoff option since Rafael Furcal.

    Wait, is that true? Gosh, I hope not.

  20. As long as he never lays eyes on a southpaw, I’m happy hitting Joc as high in the lineup as Snit could wish.

  21. The second half starts like the first one went with the same stupid crap…hbp, two strike hit, single against our awful shift, already down 2-0. Kevan Smith also starting which continues to prove if they are on the roster, Snit will play them.

  22. If the Braves are going to compete in the second half, they are going to need Riley and Swanson to come up big. So far, so good.

  23. Gracious, Minter is so bad. With this bullpen, the rest is just deck chairs on the Titanic. (And here comes Luke for the Double Grybo?)

  24. Minter has no idea where the ball is going. But I bet we see him again tomorrow though

  25. I’m at the Padres-Nats game. The Friars are beating the Natspos like a rented red-headed mule. It’s like watching John Wick 2. It’s delightful, but it’s never been clearer the difference between a good team and a team that’s just trying to get by.

    All the Joc Pedersons in the world wouldn’t get us past the RMS Tatisnic.

  26. Man the umpire has been terribly inconsistent tonight. It has to be frustrating for the pitchers and hitters.

    That being said, our bullpen is complete ass snd we have murderers row coming up in the bottom so this should work out well

  27. To listen to Chip and Glavine you would think the Braves pitchers were the only ones that were off during the break

  28. At least we scored 6 runs. That’s something. The tells me a better bullpen might make things better.

  29. Should have let Martin hit for himself at that point…couldn’t have been worse than The Big Pumpkin

  30. When Tom Glavine was a Met, the Braves often knocked him around, but it seems like ever since, these guys the Braves jettison always return to shut the team down. Maybe it’s just me.

  31. That’s a terrible miss. I get it that he missed the target but it’s still a strike

  32. Amusingly, Chip started the game pronouncing Brandon Lowe’s name correctly but since about halfway through hasn’t pronounced it correctly once.

  33. Glavine says that you are rarely getting that call because it’s hard for the ump to make it.
    So what you’re saying, Glavine, is that the umpires cannot reliably do their job. That sounds like a problem.

  34. This is why I’m pro-robot umps. No more calls by where the catcher is; it’s where the pitch goes.

  35. @57 and many of them sit over the wrong shoulder and look across the plate . This dude tonight has been terribly inconsistent up and down and on each side

  36. I may just be being picky- and the ump did offer an emphatic safe call- but I’d really like to have seen Smith at least tag Phillips after that play at the plate. I mean, Phillips himself went back to touch it just in case. It’s a matter of why not give yourself that small chance. Maybe he was worried about the baserunners advancing, hard to tell if that was a possibility.

  37. The bullpen bones us once again. Minter and Martin need to go away.

    Good teams like the Rays win games like these, mediocre teams like the Braves lose them

  38. Guess they were in a hurry to go home.

    The Rays didn’t “steal one,” Tom. This is who they are, and this is who the Braves are.

  39. Booo, sell.

    I appreciate you all who think the mets are so close that they should go for it, but no way this team sniffs a championship even in the unlikely event of reaching the playoffs.

    3 things I have learned this year:
    Snit sucks at bullpen management
    Umps suck
    Chip Carey is unbearable

  40. Snit .. blows it again .. you gotta bunt that run over … for Swanson .. he is clueless

  41. Why did they walk the first batter in the 10th? Trying to set up a DP with 0 outs doesn’t make much sense. Chavez is now our best reliever (maybe second best behind Luke).

  42. Tonight’s effort brought back wretched memories of my misspent youth…watching and attending games at the ol’ launching pad, watching the pen hand back any immediate leads, or hopes. This team has Braves circa late 70’s and 80’s stamped on it.
    Snit keeps 14 pitchers, and two or three of them are somewhat reliable. Sorry, Snit, time to pack your trash and leave this train wreck to the next buffer manager.
    Time to start moving ineffective vets and looking for a future team who wants to play to win.

  43. Braves trade for Stephen Vogt, who sucks slightly less than our other catchers.

    I’m not convinced yet that these aren’t two week trades. They can easily flip Pederson and Vogt at the deadline for what you paid for them if they decide to sell. So I like that they’re simply trying to buy time.

  44. As long as it ends the tenure of Kevan Smith I am all for it. I would prefer Engleberg from the Bad News Bears at this point

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