The Dodgers probably needed a big arm out in that bullpen. With the loss of Kenley Jansen, it was very much looking like Blake Treinen was going to be closing games. And it’s not that he isn’t capable of shutting the door, you just lose him in that 8th inning spot, where he has been very valuable for this team.
But the addition of Craig Kimbrel very much has Dodgers fans excited about the potential of this bullpen. They’re relying on some bounce-back seasons from guys that were injured or underperformed, but the potential is there. But not everyone around baseball is sold that the deal with Chicago was an even swap.
ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian and Buster Olney spoke about the trade on the Baseball Tonight podcast this week. And according to Kurkjian, many believe that the White Sox won this trade over the Dodgers. And that all came down to what Chicago really needed.
“I talked to evaluators from other teams, and they really love this deal for the White Sox. Craig Kimbrel was a misfit toy for the White Sox because he wants to be the closer after he went to the White Sox last year and wasn’t the closer. He wasn’t close to being the same pitcher when he was the closer for the Cubs. Kimbrel was never going to be a great fit for them, he’s also expensive, yet in return, the White Sox get a really useful player in AJ Pollock.”
Pollock’s contract alone should be enough to start asking questions about how even this deal is. He’ll make just $13 million this year and has a $10 million player option for the 2023 season. Chances are that if he performs anywhere close to last year, he will not opt in. And maybe that’s what the Dodgers were thinking with this deal.
But if you’re looking at cost of wins above replacement, Pollock offers 1 WAR per $4.3 million. Kimbrel offers 1 WAR per every $7.2 million. Different positions and obviously one guy is supposed to pitch in just one inning. The Dodgers were also in a position where they did not necessarily need an outfielder, but they did need a dominant reliever.
So while analysts can talk all day long about who won the trade, it comes down to needs for both sides. And the needs were met for the White Sox and for the Dodgers.
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