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Dodgers Sign Free Agent Outfielder AJ Pollock

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 15: AJ Pollock #42 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, April 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Wow. The Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly in agreement with free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock.

In 2018, Pollock posted a .257/.316/.484 line with 21 homers and 13 stolen bases in 113 games. It is well-known that A.J. Pollock is extremely injury prone, as he has only been able to play in 237 games over the course of the last three seasons.

However, when Pollock is on the field, he typically is very productive. Back in 2015, he set the world on fire with a .315/.367/.498 line with 20 homers and 39 stolen bases. Since, he has declined slightly but still remains an offensive asset.

The fact that Pollock can play a solid defensive center field (6 DRS in 2018) and is a right-handed bat makes this a fantastic signing.

Implications

Yes, this most likely means the Dodgers are out of the running for Bryce Harper. Pollock is a more than capable backup plan for about 20% of the total contract value that was to be expected with Harper.

When healthy, Pollock should fit in right at the top of the order.

Something else that is important to note with this signing is that the Dodgers are losing $500,000 of their international bonus pool money and a draft pick for signing A.J. Pollock, who was extended a qualifying offer by the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, the Dodgers did secure an extra draft pick when they let Yasmani Grandal walk, so they had some picks to work with.

Details

Although nothing is completely set in stone on final contractual details, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the Dodgers had been discussing a deal in the 5 year/$60 million range prior to today’s announcement. However, Bob Nightengale came out a few minutes later with more set details.

That is an absolute steal. If a deal in that price range is truly what is agreed upon, the Dodgers still remain a few million dollars under the luxury tax threshold of $206 million.

Reception

Although a lot of Dodger fans may be disappointed, the main takeaway is that the Dodgers front office improved the squad. Pollock is a fine player, especially at the reported cost.

[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-prospect-gavin-lux-named-in-mlb-pipeline-top-10-at-shortstop/2019/01/24/” type=”big” color=”red”] Dodgers’ Prospect Gavin Lux named in MLB Pipeline Top-10 at Shortstop[/button]

Written by Daniel Preciado

My name is Daniel Preciado and I am 18 years old. I am a sophomore Sport Analytics and Broadcast Journalism dual major at Syracuse University. When I am not in New York, I live in Whittier, California --- not too far from Chavez Ravine. I am pretty old-school for being an analytics guy and I will always embrace debate. Also, Chase Utley did absolutely nothing wrong.

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  1. I really don’t get this move. If the numbers are right, then they are paying Pollock more than they would have paid Puig and their 2018 stats are almost the same across the board. However, Puig is younger and has averaged 127 games played in the last 3 years compared to 79 for the injury plagued Pollock. Did the FO really want to get rid of Kemp and Puig and Wood were the pieces that made it work, or did they just really want to get rid of Puig? Since they released Homer Bailey why couldn’t they have just released Kemp instead, traded Alex Wood and gone to arbitration with Puig? That would have resulted in about the same money result.

    I don’t get it so maybe someone can help me out.

    • I have not been in favor of signing Pollock, but the trade with the Reds reduced the Dodgers taxable payroll by approximately $17MM and netted 2 very good to excellent prospects. We know that Dodgers have tried to trade Puig for 2 years, also tried to trade Kemp after he was acquired from Atlanta in another payroll cutting maneuver, and unlikely that Dodgers would have offered Wood a Qualifying Offer. Wood was likely the reason Reds were willing to take both Kemp and Puig.

    • It’s really very simple…..he is an A+ center fielder…..they traded away the best defensive outfielder we had…….Puig……..we needed an A-plus defender in the outfield…….they no longer view Petersen as an everyday center fielder…….they probably do not want to play Bellinger in the outfield exclusively, he is the best first baseman we have……..and Pollock steals bases, could also be your top of the order guy……..AND THE BONUS……..he hits right handed, brings more balance to the batting order…….Dodgers were too left handed. The aside, you get to keep Verdugo………and he (Pollock) is not asking for 300 million (insert you know who here) which could hamstring your team for years to come. I love this signing!

      • Bluz1st, I concur. Not only that but even if he is fully healthy as I read he was now, neither he nor probably any other player on this team or other teams will be expected to play in all 162 games.

        • Hi Paul!………It would not surprise me if Friedman now trades Petersen and Ruiz to get Realmuto. As for Pollock’s health…….the guy is a serious gamer……..his aggressive style of play will sometime’s put him in harms way. That’s part of what makes him who he is. We are deep enough in our roster to suffer losing him if it happens. The D’Backs whined year before last when they lost him as if losing him ended there title hopes before the season was even warm. If he does get hurt we will continue to contend, I have no doubt of it.

          • for one thing even if Pollock remains healthy all year long, nobody will be expected to play in all 162 games and that goes for all other players on all other teams. And I have to believe if what the Dodgers have done in the way of platooning with other players was a real concern for Pollock, he certainly would not have signed to be here

          • Pollock only plays CF (when a DBack), up to now anyway……..Dave used to pull whomever was in center and insert Bellinger there for defense in late crucial situations…….with Pollock he will not have to do that…….I see Pollock playing center no matter which lineup Roebrts trots out there……..LH or RH……..kinda like JT and probably Seager, he (Pollock) will be the closest thing we have to an everyday CF. Just my opine……….

  2. This was an absolute stellar signing. Everyone knows i’ve been calling for this for a few months. He checks off all the boxes this team needed. I know a few fans will laugh because they are in love w the stardom of Harper, but AJ is the better player and cost 1/5 of what BH would have. If you want to state his injures, well he won’t be asked to play every day with this team employing so many platoons. His body won’t have near the wear on it which could lead him back to his gold glove and all star form of 2 years ago. This team just got a hole lot better. My guess is we end up w Realmuto in the near future as well. Let’s see if Joc goes in the deal or to someone else, but i’m just glad he’ll be on the move.

  3. I don’t know what happen to my comment, but I will keep it short this time. AJ is not better than Puig. Look at the numbers. Plus Pollock is injury prone and cost more than Puig. Losing Puig to get AJ was a bad deal.

    Do More Now!!!

    • keep in mind that Puig, Kemp and Wood will be FA’s at the end of 2019 and Dodgers were unlikely to re-sign them or issue a QO. So they traded them away and with Pollock, it does allow Bellinger, CT 3 and or Kiki to play more often in INF, especially if Seager needs more time to fuully reagin his form and to be able to give Turner time off when needed.

  4. Hope you are right, Daniel. Pollock is unquestionably a defensive upgrade, when he plays. But the letters most frequently attached to his name are DL. He has registered an OPS+ above 106 only twice in seven seasons, most recently three years ago. One can argue his 2014 and 15 seasons were outliers. And last year, he had a reverse split, hitting RHP better than lefties.

    Here’s a look at Pollock’s 2018 vs. a platoon of Joc and Taylor or Hernandez:

    Pollock: LHP: .221/.277/.464 9 HR, 26 RBI; RHP: .275/.336/.495 12 HR, 39 RBI; OPS+ for season: 106; offensive WAR: 1.9

    Pederson: RHP: .260/.338/.556 24 HR 52 RBI; OPS+ for season: 125; oWAR: 2.3 (Pederson is useless vs. LHP, so he won’t play against them)
    Taylor: LHP: .232/.327/.427 7 HR, 18 RBI; RHP: .265/.332/.453 OPS+ for season: 110, oWAR: 3.5
    Hernandez: LHP: .260/.335/.445 9 HR 20 RBI; RHP: .252/.33/.495 OPS for season: 117 oWAR: 3.1

    Ok, that’s one season, but it doesn’t look like a major offensive improvement to me, especially given the injury risk. Harper would have been better. More expensive, yes, but the Dodgers can afford it unless they are determined to sign Trout if he becomes available in two years.

    Oh, just for the heck of it, here’s Puig’s 2018:

    RHP: .297/.357/.564 19 HR; 48 RBI; LHP: .209/268/.360 4 HR;7 RBI OPS+ 120; oWAR 2.1 (I admit Puig probably had to go because he hated being a platoon player, but look at those RHP numbers)

    If, however, Pollock’s signing is a precursor to trading Pederson and/or Verdugo for Realmuto and/or Kluber, then it’s absolutely worth it.

    • For his career against LHP his splits are .281/.338/.467/805. And even last year’s splits against LHP were somewhat better than Puig’s. If I recall, for a good portion of last year Puig was basically benched against LHP as a RH batter…..

      • When you say “for his career”. Do you mean – for the most part before he got hurt every year? Also I’m not sure that Puig is the appropriate measuring stick. I guess we got rid of him because he wasn’t happy being platooned but didn’t hit well enough to play every day.

    • You guys who keep comparing Puig and Pollock………I love Puig…I hated to see him go…..but Puig was not going to platoon within Dave Roberts’s current rotation system without causing clubhouse discord……..and he was constant lightning rod for team friction….he was approaching free agency……he had to go. He’s gone……….Pollock had nothing to do with that outcome.

      • I total agreement, bluz!!!! The ship of state has lost one major source of divisiveness, and I really enjoyed Puig’s play, but this may work out for the best!!!! Go Blue!!

      • I agree. Puig was unhappy being platooned, even though his performance against RHP in both 2017 and ’18 warranted it. They feared he would be a disruption. Its possible he has a great year hitting in that ballpark, however, which would make the trade even more unpopular.
        Right now, an outfield of Pollack, Bellinger and Verdugo, or a Pederson/Taylor platoon, is adequate but not overpowering. Few pitchers will quake a facing them. In a weak NL, it could be enough to get back to the WS, but as with last season, they would be blown out of the stadium by the AL Champs, whoever they are.

        • DC,of course it certainly would take more over all from the rest of this team, including the starting and relief pitching for us to compete and actually win a WS. dodgers or any other team don’t necessarily have to have the most dominant OF in MLB to accomplish that.

          • Yes, I get that. I’m just not sure there’s an improvement in that department from last season. Pollock has not been an impact player since 2015. He had a good start to last season, but then got injured. Again.
            The Dodgers are weaker at catcher, at least for now, and there are questions of whether Muncy can repeat his season, whether Turner can stay healthy, Seager can come back from his injury, Bellinger can hit LHP, plus whether Kershaw and Jansen can continue to be elite pitchers, given their issues from last year. Do the Dodgers get the Joe Kelly who pitched in the postseason, or the one who had an ERA over 8 in September and July?
            Lots of questions entering spring training.

  5. So Friedman pulled the trigger and bagged a nice catch. I like the addition of Pollock although I am concerned about his frequency of injuries. I would not be surprised if Pederson is part of a deal along with Barnes and a minor league pitcher for Realmuto. Just speculation on my part!!! Kluber is still not out of the question!!!! If that happens, our Hot Stove season will have most rewarding!!!!!

    • Hello BLUE LOU! Greetings from myself and of course PD Jr. I believe this now may be a focus for a deal with marlins for Realmuto. and if it’s true that JT did demand a trade from Marlins then it puts Dodgers in somewhat of a better negotiating position too. What do ya think?

  6. This from Think Blue LA as far as what may happen going forward with Pollock now on board:
    But as recently as Wednesday morning, it was reported that Realmuto is demanding a trade from the 2018 (and perennial) NL East cellar dwellers, as they are in complete rebuild mode. As such, a trade of the 27-year-old All-Star and Silver Slugger catcher is now imminent, with the Dodgers said to be the most likely landing spot for the Del City, Oklahoma native and Marlins 2010 third-round draft pick out of Carl Albert High School in Midwest City, OK.

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