The Braves are loading up for a second-half push in the National League East, announcing Thursday that they have acquired outfielder Joc Pederson from the Cubs in exchange for Minor League first baseman Bryce Ball.
Pederson, 29, was in the midst of his first season as a Cub after signing a one-year contract with Chicago in February. The veteran slugger enjoyed a red-hot May but has cooled off considerably since then, entering the All-Star break with a .230/.300/.418 slash line, 11 homers and 39 RBIs. The California native owns a career .465 slugging percentage and 141 big league homers.
Pederson has struggled against left-handed pitching throughout his career, but he is carrying a higher average and on-base percentage against southpaws than right-handers in 2021. All 11 of his homers, however, have come off righties. His addition should help the Braves fill the void left by Ronald Acuña Jr.’s season-ending torn ACL suffered on Saturday. While Atlanta has not spent a day above the .500 mark all season, it is still within striking distance of the first-place Mets, sitting just four games back in the NL East standings.
Ball, 23, was the 12th-ranked prospect in the Braves’ farm system according to MLB Pipeline. His power is his most highly regarded tool, scoring a 60 on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. A 24th-round selection in the 2019 Draft, Ball surprised some evaluators by hitting 17 homers and slashing .329/.395/.628 in his first taste of Minor League pitching (Rookie and High-A) in 2019. This year, Ball is hitting .207 with six homers across 212 plate appearances for High-A Rome.