The Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks aren't in the same division. They only play each other seven times during the regular season. Even so, it still hurts to see the team that eliminated the Phillies last October continue to make moves while the front office in Philadelphia has seemingly fallen asleep at the wheel.
The Diamondbacks agreed to a one-year, $9.5 million contract with veteran Joc Pederson on Thursday, per the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro. The deal also includes a $14 million mutual option for 2025. It's just the latest move for a team that was considered an upstart group as they ran through the playoffs last year but is now pushing to solidify its place as one of the teams to beat in the National League in 2024 and for years to come.
This isn't the first time Pederson has been in the news this offseason. If you recall, the two-time World Series champion got Phillies fans worked up earlier in the offseason when he posted a confusing troll job on his Instagram account.
No, he wasn't hinting at something. In fact, the team and Pederson hadn't even been talking. It was just Joc being Joc.
Now 31, Pederson is mainly a lefty DH platoon bat, although he did appear in some games as a corner outfielder with the San Francisco Giants last season. With the outfield the Diamondbacks can put out there, it would be surprising to see him pulling the glove out very often.
Last year, he hit .235 with 15 home runs in 358 at-bats in San Francisco. Versus the Phillies, Pederson has hit .301 with a .915 OPS, eight home runs, and a 150 wRC+ in 156 at-bats over his 10-year career, which included a half-season in Atlanta in 2021.
Diamondbacks upgrading all over the roster
Let's go back and recap what the 2023 NL champs have been up to this winter. They started with a trade in November, acquiring slugging third baseman Eugenio Suárez from the Seattle Mariners. He hasn't hit for average since 2019 but has put up 84 home runs over the last three seasons. Leaving T-Mobile Park, MLB's worst hitter's park, will only make him more dangerous.
Arizona also added starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who signed a four-year, $80 million contract in December. The lefty had a 3.30 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with the Tigers last year and joins the already sturdy Diamondbacks rotation behind Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly.
In addition to the newcomers to the desert, the Diamondbacks brought back veteran Evan Longoria for another year. They also re-signed outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a three-year deal.
Phillies watching other NL contenders load up this offseason
The arms race in the NL West is out of control, with the Dodgers running a muck in free agency and the trade market, and the Diamondbacks aggressively building on their run to the World Series — a run that so painfully included upsetting the Phillies with an improbable comeback in the NLCS.
The Phillies spent money early, re-signing starter Aaron Nola for $172 million. But aside from an extension for manager Rob Thomson at the MLB Winter Meetings and the recent depth signing of pitcher Kolby Allard, there hasn't been action for most of this excruciatingly slow winter.
While it's true that the Phillies roster is already strong, based on how they finished out the final two months of the 2023 season, there are still holes to be shored up before Opening Day. The bullpen could use another arm to boost the depth, although at this point, most of the top free agent relief options have landed elsewhere.
The rotation is set for now, but an upgrade wouldn't hurt while options are still available. Fans may just be in for more depth signings, like some of our suggested minor league contracts for free agent veterans.
With less than three weeks remaining until spring training gets underway, it would be nice to see the front office put the car in drive and make at least one move to upgrade the team for the ensuing battle for NL supremacy in 2024.