SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Giants outfielder Joc Pederson, a member of the 2018 World Series runners-up Dodgers, denied on Friday that those Dodgers stole signs illegally and addressed an incident involving him that recently surfaced.
Pederson was specifically named in Evan Drellich’s new book, “Winning Fixes Everything: How Baseball’s Brightest Minds Created Sports’ Biggest Mess,” as evidence of the Dodgers’ alleged impropriety.
An unidentified Red Sox player, Drellich wrote, said the Dodgers were “the biggest cheaters in the whole fucking industry” and described a moment during the 2018 World Series in which Pederson ran into the visiting video area at Fenway Park, where his teammate Chase Utley and an MLB official were situated.
“Hey, did you get his signs yet?” Pederson is said to have asked. “And they’re just like, ‘Fuck — fucking idiot,’” the Red Sox source said of the league official’s response, per Drellich’s reporting. “Apparently, nothing is done by MLB except they say, ‘Stop doing that shit, don’t do that shit.’ Then they go over to the Red Sox clubhouse to (video operator) J.T. Watkins, and they’re like proactively scolding him, making sure he doesn’t do that. “And he turns to the guy and says, ‘Oh, you caught Chase Utley doing shit?’”
In the Giants’ spring training clubhouse Friday, Pederson told KNBR that the scene as described happened, but lacks important context. The 2022 All-Star outfielder said he wasn’t earnestly asking Utley or anyone from the Dodgers in the hallway for the signs, rather he was teasing the MLB official.
“(The official) was just standing in the way like a pillar, and we weren’t even allowed in there,” Pederson told KNBR. “There’s truth to it, yeah, I said that. But Chase wasn’t in there. No one was allowed in that hallway. Like, you couldn’t stand in the hallway and look at the screen. You had to walk to the video room. So I was just talking trash to the guy like a jokester.”
The Red Sox’s accusations are vague, but they were certainly suspicious of Dodgers cheating, according to Drellich’s book. Multiple of instances of cheating in that time period involved stationing a person in the video room to decode signs from the live feed. Pederson said that there was no one in the video room, so no one could have possibly been deciphering and relaying signs.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said MLB investigated the team in 2018 for allegations of sign stealing and “came away with nothing.” During the investigation, MLB never interviewed Pederson, he said.
Pederson hit 25 home runs for the Dodgers in 2018. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was LAD’s general manager; there are no mentions of Zaidi by name in Drellich’s book.
Cheating, specifically by stealing signs electronically, has been widespread in recent years. MLB found the Yankees used their dugout phone to relay signs in 2015 and 2016. The Red Sox under John Farrell in 2017 used an Apple Watch to relay signs, and were later punished for a different scandal in 2018 with Alex Cora. Houston’s trash can-banging operation is the most infamous sign-stealing scandal since the 1951 Giants.
Mookie Betts, asked if he was aware that the 2018 Red Sox were using live video feed to illegally steal signs, told the Los Angeles Times, “Yeah, everybody was.”
The specific Pederson-Utley interaction has “been blown way out of context,” Pederson said. He also referenced Cora, the 2018 Red Sox manager who was later suspended for his role in the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scheme.
“2018 was kind of the first year MLB had supervisors around,” Pederson said. “They had MLB officials around all the bullpens, video rooms, all of that. It’s not a coincidence that Alex Cora was on the Red Sox from the Astros. The Red Sox played the Astros, so when they went to Houston, he said ‘I want MLB officials in all these certain spots.’ So when we played the Red Sox in the World Series, and there’s MLB officials in all these spots. And we weren’t even allowed — Chase Utley wasn’t even allowed in that. If you’ve been to (Fenway Park), you have to walk past the video room and it’s a fucking small-ass aisle. And you have an MLB official there, and it’s just annoying so I was talking shit like I normally do. Like: ‘Yo, did we get the signs?’ Just messing around.”
Pederson said he directed that joke to the MLB official, not Utley. He didn’t remember the official’s exact response, but also didn’t contradict Drellich’s reporting.
“I didn’t have any altercation or anything,” Pederson said. “He probably said ‘this fucking idiot.’ Like, joking.”
The Red Sox, not the Dodgers, were punished for stealing signs illegally during that 2018 season. Video coordinator J.T. Watkins was suspended one year for his part in Boston’s sign-stealing system that the commissioner’s office’s investigation found “far more limited in scope and impact” than the Houston scandal. (The Dodgers hired Watkins this winter after he served his suspension).
Pederson, like Roberts, insisted the Dodgers didn’t cheat in 2018. A year prior, the Dodgers lost in the World Series to the Astros, who were stealing signs and relaying them to batters live by banging trash cans and using other methods.
“No, the guy was sitting right there, you think he’d just let Chase sit in front of a computer?” Pederson said. “People who have never been in that environment don’t understand.”