On the first day of free agency, Joc Pederson’s phone rang. On the line was Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations. He was not calling to discuss a new contract. He was calling to say goodbye.

Pederson had spent a decade in the Dodgers organization. He got drafted in 2010. He made an All-Star team in 2015. He helped win a World Series in 2020. Friedman told Pederson how much he meant to the franchise. Then Friedman explained why the current structure of the roster meant Pederson would have to play elsewhere in 2021.

“Basically,” Pederson told The Athletic on the ground floor of Truist Park after Game 2 of the National League Division Series, the message was “we’re not going to be in on you.”

Pederson was not surprised. He did not expect the Dodgers to pursue an outfielder they did not trust to play every day. Friedman held firm, even when a robust market for Pederson failed to materialize. He signed with the Cubs. Atlanta acquired him in July to mitigate the loss of Ronald Acuña Jr. In only a handful of playoff at-bats, he has shown his new city why his Dodgers teammates dubbed this month “Joctober.”

On Sunday night, Pederson tied Game 2 with his third homer of the postseason, a tremendous clout off Dodgers ace Max Scherzer, which set the table for Atlanta’s second consecutive walk-off victory. Pederson swaggered through his dugout after his blast landed. “Hey,” he said, “I’m a bad motherfucker.” He slapped hands and thumped chests. “I’m a bad motherfucker,” he said.

It was a version of the role he once played for the Dodgers. Pederson lacked the capability against left-handed pitchers to start every day. His role became constrained to a platoon. His numbers in the regular season could fluctuate. Each October, though, team officials banked on him to flourish. In 70 postseason games, he has posted an .895 OPS and hit 12 home runs.