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MLB

Dodgers aren’t fooling around with AJ Pollock

The Los Angeles Dodgers give up hard hitting AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox, getting ace closer Craig Kimbrel in return, straight-up, no chaser

Update:
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 24: AJ Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run against the Colorado Rockies during the third inning of the MLB spring training game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 24, 2022 in Scottsdale, Ariz
Christian PetersenAFP

It was so unexpected, so out of the blue, that it had to be an April Fools story, right? The Dodgers, who came so close to the fall classic, trading one of their big bats to the White Sox? But as the day wore on, it has been confirmed and reinforced by everyone from ESPN to CBS to the Dodgers themselves. It looks like it is no fooling after all. AJ Pollock is on his way to Chicago.

In a straight-up deal, the Dodgers have sent their hard-hitting outfielder to off to get All-Star reliever Craig Kimbrel in return. The move further reinforces the already formidable LA bullpen and is likely a response to the loss of Kenley Jansen to the Atlanta Braves last month. Dodger fans are already bemoaning the weird Kimbrel arm-hang in his action. If you can accept, and even come to love, the bizarre, borderline-balk, hip twist that Jansen employed, you can deal with Kimbrel's idiosyncracies. I mean, let's be honest, for the kind of movement that Kimbrel has on his pitches, he can do anything he likes on the mound.

In Kimbrel, LA gets one of baseball’s best closers, with 372 saves and a 2.18 ERA over his 12-year career. The Dodgers likely saw Pollock, who is coming off his two best seasons, as surplus to requirements given their stacked outfield and his $10 million salary.

Kimbrel’s contract is slightly more, at $16 million for this season, but he will be a free agent at the close of 2022 play, while Pollock still had another year to run. Kimbrel has been dominant at every club he has played for and the eight-time All-Star will fill the need for a closer in LA from the start of the season.

Pollock hit .297 last year with 21 home runs and 69 RBIs in 384 at bats. He is a potent offensive weapon that should slot in nicely to the White Sox plans for the season, particularly with Andrew Vaughan walking wounded.

This move looks sage on paper and is, I have no doubt, the sensible move, but strengthening what is already one of the best bullpens in baseball even further at the expense of your run-makers feels wrong-headed. The Dodgers already have dominant pitching, and yet they struggled against teams with far lesser arms on the mound, but who relied on their bats to take them over the line.

Let’s not get too out of sorts, my concerns are likely simply over-cautiousness. But being from the old school, I am always of the opinion that, to borrow a football simile, you never take runs off the scoreboard. Giving up AJ feels like the Dodgers are doing just that.

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