Most of the time, I like when I’m right. This time, not so much.
A.J. Pollock is going to be a Dodger, and hemight be a Dodger for a long time.
Jeff Passan originally reported the Dodgers were talking to Pollock about a 5-year, $60 million deal. In reality, it’s looking like a 4-year, $55 million deal with escalators and incentives for the oft-injured center fielder.
He has averaged just more than 110 games the last two seasons and is getting a guaranteed 4-year deal. That’s almost unbelievable. It had been speculated that Pollock would land a deal worth $15 million annually (something like 3/45 or 4/60), so perhaps the extra year is so the Dodgers can save $1.25 million annually against the luxury tax … because that’s still a thing they care about deeply, apparently. They were a little less than $25 million from the $206 million threshold, so this deal will eat up a decent portion of that.
I can, somewhat, understand the interest in Pollock. Plugging in a plus-defender in center field is enticing. But Cody Bellinger more than held his own out there last season and moving him to left field probably wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over Pederson — both offensively and defensively. And I’m not sure why the Dodgers are suddenly so interested in handedness of their hitters. They have a nice compliment of right-handed hitters in Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor who can pick up slack for the lefties who struggle against southpaws, but at the same time, Bellinger should be out there every day. Alex Verdugo should also be given the opportunity to show he can handle lefties (and he did in the minors). Pederson should be platooned with whoever doesn’t play second base (Hernandez or Taylor) with a lefty on the mound. At the end of the day, it seems like the Dodgers are out-thinking themselves. Just sign Bryce Harper and call it an offseason. Occam’s Razor and all.
Point still stands with regards to Harper.
The Dodgers stand to lose what I thought would be the No. 31 pick they received as compensation for failing to sign 2018 1st-rounder J.T. Ginn. But MLB Pipeline says they’d lose their 2nd-highest non-1st-round pick. If that’s the case, that makes this deal a little more palatable (and further justifies bringing in Harper since they’d be losing their 3rd-round pick). They’ll also lose $500,000 of international signing bonus money. They reportedly had about $1.4 million remaining before this signing.
If you want some optimism for the Pollock signing, check these next two embeds.
On the first one, Pollock has an extreme outlier season (2015) in which he posted a 6.8 fWAR. That might be his ceiling, but I don’t think he’s capable of that again (nor do many other teams, because if they did, he would have signed long ago). We’ll see how this works out. Pederson is likely going to be traded (I don’t think it’ll be Verdugo) and Bellinger will likely slide over to left field, giving the Dodgers one of the best defensive outfields they’ve had in recent memory.
It now appears the Dodgers’ focus is shifting to J.T. Realmuto. If they end up with him, then this offseason looks a lot better than it did just one hour ago. Keibert Ruiz is likely on the table, and there could be some kind of 3-team thing if this Pederson-to-White Sox thing is legit. If not, the Marlins could use a power-hitting left-handed outfielder like Pederson.
There will be another move or two … perhaps even today. For now, let’s try to be as optimistic as possible about Pollock.