Braves acquire OF Joc Pederson in trade with Cubs

Sports News

Chicago Cubs’ Joc Pederson (24) hits a three-run double against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of a baseball game, Friday, July 9, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Atlanta Braves acquired Joc Pederson in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, bolstering their outfield after losing Ronald Acuña Jr. to a season-ending knee injury.

Atlanta sent minor league first baseman Bryce Ball to Chicago for Pederson, who is batting .230 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 73 games. The 29-year-old Pederson spent his first seven seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers before signing with the Cubs in free agency in February.

The Braves are looking to return to the playoffs, but their pursuit of a fourth straight NL East title took a hit when Acuña tore the ACL in his right knee during Saturday’s 5-4 victory over Miami.

Atlanta hit the All-Star break in third in the division, four games back of the first-place New York Mets.

Pederson could be in the lineup when the Braves return to the field Friday night against Tampa Bay. The lefty-batting slugger played in the postseason in each of the previous six years with Los Angeles, batting .382 with two homers in 16 games in the Dodgers’ run to the World Series title in 2020.

Atlanta assumes the $1,935,484 remaining of Pederson’s $4.5 million salary. The deal includes a $10 million mutual option with a $2.5 million buyout and allows Pederson to earn $125,000 each for 500, 525, 550 and 575 plate appearances.

The Pederson deal could be the first of many for Chicago before the July 30 trade deadline. The Cubs dropped 13 of 15 before the break, moving the team into sell mode after it was once on top of the NL Central.

All-Stars Kris Bryant and closer Craig Kimbrel, along with slugging infielders Javier Báez and Anthony Rizzo, are among the top names that could be headed out of Chicago. Báez, Bryant and Rizzo are eligible for free agency after this season.

Ball, 23, was selected by Atlanta in the 24th round of the 2019 amateur draft. The 6-foot-6 Ball batted .207 with six homers and 30 RBIs in 53 games for High-A Rome this year.

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