Cubs unload Joc Pederson as Braves acquire much-needed outfield help

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Some wondered whether the Braves, who begin the second half four games behind the first-place Mets in the NL East (they’re even further back in the NL Wild Card race, trailing San Diego by seven games), would be buyers or sellers at the upcoming trade deadline. Thursday's swap with Chicago should answer that.

The power-hitting Pederson is a worthy flyer for the Braves, who are looking to fill the void left by All-Star outfielder Ronald Acuna, now out for the year with a torn ACL. A one-time All-Star with the Dodgers and a former World Series champion, Pederson adds another potent bat to a right-handed-heavy Braves lineup. There’s a lot of swing and miss to Pederson’s game (lifetime .230 average with a 24.3-percent strikeout rate), but when the 29-year-old is running hot, he’s a force to be reckoned with (141 career homers). However, Pederson has not fielded his position well this year, ranking 49th out of 53 qualified outfielders in defensive runs saved (-5).

Meanwhile, the Cubs, who fit all the familiar symptoms of a “seller,” will see if they can nudge Bryce Ball in the right direction. The 6’6” first baseman has had a down year offensively (.207/.354/.396 with six homers in 53 games for High-A Rome), though rust could be a factor after having the 2020 minor-league scrapped due to COVID. Prior to being traded, Ball was Atlanta’s 12th-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

Kris Bryant—who could be traded himself in the coming days—should inherit left-field duties from Pederson with Patrick Wisdom likely to handle the bulk of Chicago’s third-base responsibilities. Pederson is just the first domino to fall for the reeling Cubs (losers of 13 of their last 15), who could be headed for an all-out fire sale.

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