When rumors surfaced late Saturday about the Dodgers reaching out to outfielder A.J. Pollock, many media outlets jumped on the story immediately, primarily because there has been very little to report in recent days and it was at least something to write about.
Ken Rosenthal was the first to share the news, as fans were awoke from a slumber that potentially saw the club standing pat roster-wise as spring camp draws near.
At first glance, I like the possibility of Pollock’s presence at the top of the order, but before I developed an opinion, I felt it was necessary to see where some folks had the 31-year-old pegged in terms of a 2019 salary.
In his annual free-agent projection list, Tim Dierkes of MLBTR guesstimated Pollock netting a four-year, $60 million deal. While Dierkes is not always right on the money, he’s usually relatively close.
Dierkes pointed out Pollock’s plentiful injury history that ranged from a broken hand, an elbow fracture, a groin strain, and a thumb fracture. He noted that if it wasn’t for many seeing Pollock as injury-prone, some clubs could consider offering the right-handed hitter a deal in the five-year vicinity, similar to what Lorenzo Cain and Dexter Fowler have scored in recent years.
In 2018, Pollock managed to appear in 113 games, the most since his 2015 season when he logged 157. In those 113 games last season, the Connecticut native slashed .257/.316/.484 with 21 doubles, 21 long balls and 65 RBI along with 13 swiped bags. Overall, Pollock contributed a 2.5 WAR, which ranks slightly lower that the departed Yasiel Puig‘s 2.7 WAR last year.
The 2015 season was Pollock’s benchmark campaign. He was recognized as an All-Star and snagged a Gold Glove, as he ended up hitting .315/.367/.498 with 39 doubles, 20 homers and 76 RBI alongside 39 stolen bases and 111 runs scored. He put up a 7.2 WAR in 2015 alone.
What’s even more impressive is the consistency of his career splits, something that the Dodgers seem to be lacking these days, forcing the club to employ numerous platoon scenarios. Pollock has a career .284/.343/.454 with 44 HR in 1578 AB against righty pitching, while hitting .275/.327/.498 with 30 long balls over 699 AB against southpaws. He’s a career .283/.343/.461 hitter when batting leadoff, and he has slashed .298/.350/.478 when hitting out of the two-hole.
Pollock is a center fielder by trade, which could result in some roster consequences if he’s signed, considering the speculation that Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo have already been mentioned in the CF conversation to some degree.
As far as 2019 projections go, Steamer has Pollock netting a 2.6 WAR, hitting .259/.326/.445 with 18 homers and 65 RBI in 121 games. Baseball Reference has him slashing .252/.315/.452 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI over 429 AB.
At the end of the day, while I think Pollock could indeed be a benefit to the Dodgers, I’m certainly not keen on a $15 million per year paycheck. And there’s no possible way I see Andrew Friedman handing out a four-year deal to the 31-year-old.
For all intents and purposes, it would have been a smarter decision to retain Puig, paying him $9.7 million for a 2.5 WAR this season, despite not receiving some type of return before he would have walked at the end of 2019.