Former Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock was one of the top free-agents still remaining on the board, but the Dodgers took him off the board by going out and inking him to a four-year deal that is reportedly worth $55 million and includes a player opt-out after the third season of the deal and a player option for a fifth season.
In my opinion this is a great signing. The main thing that it’ll do for Los Angeles is give them more lineup balance and really help them out when it comes to hitting against left-handed pitching. Pollock does hit better against right-handed pitching, but overall he hits pretty similarly against lefties and righties and he should deepen the Dodgers lineup by giving them a steady presence in the middle.
Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman noted the consistency and balance that Pollock can bring to the lineup while he was talking about the signing, saying “A big focus for us is how to achieve more consistency,” and then continuing to say, “We think we’re going to be a really, really good team this year, extremely well balanced.”
He’s not wrong. The only real problem that Pollock has had during his career is staying healthy. The most games he’s played in a season is 157, but after that it drops to 137 and then he’s been down at 112 and 113 games played the last two seasons respectively.
Other than that though, Pollock hits .281 for his career, averages about 20 home runs per season when he stays healthy and is good for driving in around 70 runs. A blemish is that he doesn’t draw a lot of walks, which is of course something that front office executives are putting at a premium now a days in baseball, but he also doesn’t strike out very much and I’m a huge believer in putting guys on your team who don’t strike out very much and excel at putting the ball in play, because the ball needs to be put in play for something good to happen.
Pollock is also capable of steal 25+ bases and he stole a career-high 39 bases in his all-star season in 2015. That can bring even more versatility to the Dodgers lineup.
When you look at Pollock’s numbers in the field, he also ranks really well. He won a gold glove in the 2015 season, but other than that he has always ranked positively in defensive WAR and the more games he’s played in a season, the highers his WAR has climbed, so if he can stay healthy in a Dodgers uniform, his presence will greatly benefit the Dodgers pitching staff because him manning center field makes it even easier on the other guys playing in the outfield, so him playing a position as important as center field as well as he does, just makes the whole teams defense better.
As good as he’s been defensively, his offensive value trumps that by a good amount as he has posted a 14.6 offensive WAR for his career.
This isn’t the big name signing that Bryce Harper or Manny Machado will be once we finally figure out where they will be playing, but when it comes to outfielders, Harper has a higher offensive WAR by a good amount, but Pollock has a much higher defensive WAR, so overall they really aren’t too far apart when you look at the overall value brought to a team.
Bryce Harper is certainly a bigger name and he does have an MVP award to his name, so I’m not trying to say signing Pollock is better than signing Harper, but for where the Dodgers are as a team, this might be a more fitting signing because Pollock comes with a much cheaper price tag and he will add depth and balance to a team that was in the World Series the past two seasons, so trying to go out and get a big splash isn’t necessarily what they needed.
For the Dodgers, Harper is still a possibility with how deep of pockets they have, but it appears unlikely and going out and getting Pollock for much less than Harper is going to sign for gives them more flexibility and they’ve already been rumored to be making a run at Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto.
I have a feeling the Dodgers aren’t done, but this is a pretty big splash despite Pollock not having the name of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.
Overall grade: B+