Former Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock is a free agent after choosing not to exercise his player option with the White Sox for 2023, taking a $5 million buyout instead of a $13 million salary. So he went into the offseason needing to make more than $8 million to come out ahead on his decision.
While the free-agent market has been pretty brisk, Pollock hasn’t yet signed, possibly the result of his .681 OPS (91 OPS+) in 2022. Formerly an elite defensive center-fielder, Pollock is now a corner outfielder who didn’t hit like one last year and turned 35 last month.
While a lot of L.A. fans would love to have Pollock back in blue, over on MLB Network, former Mariners star Harold Reynolds thinks Pollock might be heading to a different team in the National League West.
“I’m going Padres,” Reynolds said. “Look they’re talking about trading Grisham. You’re talking about Tatis playing in the outfield. That’s still not ever done smoothly. I think Pollock gives you a guy that you know is going to catch the ball for you. He’s proven he can play at sporadic times, doesn’t have to play everyday. And I think he’s a good fit for what they need. So even if you don’t trade Grisham, you end up having Pollock on that club, who can play — I just think they need somebody that’s reliable like him who can help out in their transition time.”
Discussing potential landing spots for some of the top players available on the free agent market. ?
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 3, 2023
I have nothing but love for Pollock — he’s one of my favorite people to play for the Dodgers in recent year — but if I had to make a list of 50 ways to describe him, I don’t think “a guy that you know is going to catch the ball for you” would make the list. If Pollock hits, he’s worth having on your team as a guy who hopefully won’t do too much damage in left field; if he doesn’t hit, he’s unplayable.
So no, Pollock would not replace Trent Grisham in center if San Diego decided to trade him, and he doesn’t have a ton of bearing on Fernando Tatis Jr. playing the outfield. If the Padres think Tatis can handle center, they could go with an outfield of Pollock in left, Tatis in center, and Juan Soto in right. If Pollock is right offensively, that could be an excellent outfield at the plate, but it has potential to be a trainwreck on defense.
Reynolds also misses the mark on Pollock proving he can “play at sporadic times.” Less than four percent of his career plate appearances (158 out of 4,008) have come off the bench. It’s easy to see Pollock has only topped 530 plate appearances in a season once in his 11-year career and assume that means he’s a platoon player, but in actuality, he’s just a player who’s been hurt a lot in his career.
Could Pollock be a good bench player? Perhaps. But it’s not proven, as Reynolds suggests. So he might be a good fit for the Padres, but not for any of the reasons Harold said.
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