Posted on January 24, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
It’s been a rather slow free agent market this winter, but one of the bigger fish in the pond is now off the table. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to sign outfielder A.J. Pollock. The deal is reportedly worth $50 million plus incentives over four years, putting Pollock in Dodger blue through the 2022 season.
Outside of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, Pollock was considered one of the top position players on the free agent market this winter. He had hoped to sign a more lucrative deal than the one he got. However, with the market moving slowly and spring training less than a month away, Pollock decided to take the four-year offer for the Dodgers, giving him a new home but keeping him in the NL West.
The 31-year old Pollock has spent his entire career to this point with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s been a key part of Arizona’s success the past two seasons after missing most of the 2016 campaign because of a broken elbow. The past two seasons, Pollock has posted an OPS of .801 and .800, totaling 35 home runs and 114 RBIs during that span. However, following his elbow injury, Pollock hasn’t quite matched his production when he was an all-star in 2015, hitting .315 with an OPS of .865 that season.
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Nevertheless, Pollock is one of the more consistent center fielders in baseball. He’s also a good fit for the Dodgers. After trading Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds earlier this offseason, Los Angeles was left with an abundance of left-hand hitting outfielders, most notably Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, and Alex Verdugo. Pollock will help bring some balance to the Los Angeles lineup.
Perhaps more importantly, Pollock will give the Dodgers a full-time center fielder. Los Angeles used a combination of Bellinger, Pederson, and Chris Taylor in center field last year. With Pollock, the Dodgers will have an everyday center fielder who is both a productive offensive player and one of the better defensive center fielders in the game. That will allow the Dodgers to use the likes of Bellinger, Pederson, Toles, Taylor, and others in the corner outfield spots. That group gives Los Angeles more than enough depth to survive an injury to the injury-prone Pollock. It also opens the door for the Dodgers to trade one of their excess outfielders, with Pederson’s name already being mentioned as a possibility.
One by-product of the Dodgers signing Pollock could be that they’re no longer interested in signing Bryce Harper. Los Angeles has been considered one of the favorites to sign Harper, especially after they traded Puig and Kemp. After committing $50 million and a spot in their outfield to Pollock, adding Harper seems unnecessary, causing his list of suitors to dwindle.
While Pollock is not at the same level of Harper, it represents the first major addition for the Dodgers this offseason. Remember, Los Angeles has lost in the World Series the past two seasons, so they are not far from being a championship team. Pollock is a more reliable and defensively sound outfielder than what the Dodgers gave up in Puig and Kemp, so this move is surely an upgrade for the Los Angeles outfield. But whether Pollock is the player who can get the Dodgers over the hump and make them world champions remains to be seen.