A.J. Pollock’s name in connection with the Los Angeles Dodgers first came to light a week ago. Buster Olney mentioned Pollock alongside Bryce Harper in the Dodgers’ free agency pursuits.
Now, Ken Rosenthal is dropping more nuggets that indicates the Dodgers’ interest in Pollock may still exist.
For the moment, the team is committed to Cody Bellinger in center, but A.J. Pollock’s ability to play that position might actually make him a better free-agent fit than Harper, provided the Dodgers indeed trade other outfielders. Pollock has not played more than 113 games in a season since 2015, but the Dodgers – due to their depth and versatility – could withstand his absences more easily than most clubs. He would be the position-player version of left-hander Rich Hill, valued for bursts of excellence in limited action. And he would be considerably less expensive than Harper, likely commanding a contract in the three- or four-year range at around $15 million per season.
The Dodgers then could pursue Arenado or Rendon next offseason, possibly moving Justin Turner to first base in 2020, the final year of his contract. The Cardinals face similar choices — Goldschmidt is entering his walk year and third baseman Matt Carpenter his final guaranteed season (the team holds an $18.5 million option on Carpenter for ’20).
Equally important is the connection that the Dodgers could have to third baseman like Arenado and Rendon as soon as 2020. The equation of Pollock playing center does make the solid Pollock an attractive option. With the depth and personnel the Dodgers boast, Pollock for 130 or 140 games would be adding a solid weapon.
What Would Pollock in Los Angeles Look Like?
This would allow for Cody Bellinger to slide back to first base. The question then becomes – what do you do with Max Muncy? The answer probably is Muncy plays all around the diamond. Then, Bellinger would be playing some corner outfield and giving Pollock days off in center.
With injuries and hot/cold streaks in play, the ‘problem’ likely works itself out in 2019. The greatest obstacle at the current moment is the Dodgers would need to offload one or two of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, or Joc Pederson. For now, consider the Dodgers still ‘in’ on the A.J. Pollock sweepstakes.