The Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly set their sights on free agent outfielder A.J. Pollack, while his checkered injury past raises some concerns, the Dodgers might just be the perfect situation for the veteran.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Dodgers are targetting former Diamondback outfielder A.J. Pollack, who enters free agency for the first time at 31-years old with a few question marks surrounding his name.
Hearing increasing chatter about #Dodgers’ interest in free-agent outfielder A.J. Pollock. No indication a deal is close, but he is a target for them. Offers ability to play CF and RH balance. Bellinger, Pederson, Toles, Verdugo all LH. Taylor and Hernandez RH, but also play IF.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 19, 2019
Particularly, in lack of health over the last three seasons, only managing to play 112 and 113 games in 2017 and 2018 respectfully. And that was after missing all but 46 games in 2016 with a fractured elbow he sustained during a head-first slide into home plate.
Prior to that injury, Pollack was fresh off his best season at the plate, sporting a slash line of .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 39 stolen bases, and finished the season with a career-best 6.7 fWAR in 2015. Pollack has struggled to replicate those numbers, but still hasn’t been truly healthy since 2015, battling through injuries to his groin and a sprained thumb over the last two seasons limiting his playing time.
At this point, it’s unlikely Pollack will ever reach the MVP potential he flashed in 2015, but with his combination of speed, power, and defensive prowess Pollack still has plenty to offer to teams – if he can stay healthy. Or maybe, instead of trying to preserve Pollack over the course of the season, a team just has to limit his playing time over the season – possibly a platoon role?
Enter the Dodgers
At first, when Rosenthal mentioned Los Angeles as one of the teams seriously pursuing Pollack it wasn’t a total surprise. The Dodgers have a slew of young outfielders in Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, top prospect Alex Verdugo, as well as the versatile Max Muncy and Chris Taylor all expected to get some playing time in the outfield for 2019.
But Rosenthal teased the idea of Pollack playing in more of a platoon role with the Dodgers and how his defensive flexibility to play all three outfield spots made him more attractive to LA. It’s been reported that Bellinger is expected to get the majority of his starts in CF, but Pollack’s defense, while not at the elite level it was a few years ago, is still promising enough to assume he can still handle part-time CF duties.
Pollack also gives the Dodgers a right-handed bat with some pop, something LA is in desperate need as their lineup is almost entirely composed of left-handed batters. Rosenthal speculated that Pollack would likely sign somewhere around the $15 mil area for about 3 – 4 years, likely a fraction of the cost of what someone like Bryce Harper will cost them. Plus, with the Dodgers off-loading close to $70 million by trading Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood to the Cincinnati Reds, the Dodgers can afford to sign Pollack as well as continue to make improvements to other areas of the roster.
The latest report from Rosenthal confirms the Dodgers are engaged with Pollack.
Dodgers fans may be disappointed that they’re losing Manny Machado and likely are replacing him with A.J. Pollack and not Bryce Harper. But if Pollack stays healthy it’s not hard to envision the 31-year-old vet returning to form on a very talented Dodger club.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News