Up until this past offseason, Joc Pederson had spent the entirety of his Major League career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pederson was selected by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2010 Draft and made his MLB debut four years later.
Pederson’s career nearly began down a different path as he was poised to follow through on a commitment to play collegiately at USC. However, late negotiations with the Dodgers over a signing bonus led to a change in heart.
That was among the many topics Pederson reflected on as he explained the decision to sign a one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs. Pederson’s deal additionally includes a mutual option for the 2022 season, but more importantly, an opportunity to earn an everyday role.
Although that was not going to be possible with the Dodgers, the 28-year-old holds a positive view of his time spent with the Dodgers. Pederson particularly enjoyed getting a chance to be teammates with Chase Utley, via The Players’ Tribune:
Speaking of culture, I actually do want to single out one teammate: Chase Utley. Chase was my Vet those first few years in the league, and the knowledge I absorbed from him will last me my entire career. He changed my approach to the game — and, in a lot of ways, I think he changed our whole team’s approach to the game. So many of the good things that finally happened for us last season, I can trace back to Chase’s influence. Just a one-of-a-kind leader. Best teammate I’ve ever had.
Several Dodgers — past and present — have raved about the impact and influence Utley had after joining the team during the 2015 season. Clayton Kershaw has been among the most vocal Utley supporters, mentioning him as a role model for his son.
Utley also has been credited for Kiké Hernandez and Justin Turner switching to a dairy-free diet.
The Dodgers’ front office was keenly aware of the admiration the clubhouse held for Utley, and he was re-signed on a one-year contract for both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Utley then received a two-year contract before the 2018 campaign, which he wound up retiring after.
Utley made surprising decision
With a reputation of not being particularly fond of media duties, Utley shocked many when he joined the SportsNet LA broadcast team during the 2019 season.
“If you asked me 10 years ago if I thought I would work for a front office or be on TV, I would’ve said absolutely not,” Utley told DodgerBlue.com at the time. “But, I’ve enjoyed my experience here in L.A. One, because we had a great team. Two, because I grew up a Dodgers fan.
“Putting that all together was amazing. The ability to stay in baseball now that I’m not playing but still have some kind of voice, I thought was important. Trying the TV thing out, which is still new to me, but so far I’m enjoying it. It’s actually been fairly seamless.”
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