Pollock Trade Impact On The Southside

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The Chicago White Sox finally traded Craig Kimbrel today, and Sox fans everywhere are elated. There was some hate for the deal shown from pessimistic Sox fans but mostly relief and satisfaction was the feeling from White Sox fans. While Rick Hahn and the rest of the White Sox front office do not necessarily make trades based on pressure from the fanbase, they did quiet two of the loudest cries from Sox fans with one deal.

The Sox sent Craig Kimbrel to the Dodgers in exchange for outfielder A.J. Pollock. The deal included no money or any other prospects. Kimbrel is owed $16 million this season while Pollock is on the last year of a four-year deal that was originally worth $55 million. The Sox will take on Pollock’s $10 million owed this year and Pollock has an available player option for 2023 for the same $10 million. While the move seems relatively even in terms of money, it does free up roughly six million dollars for the Sox to add to the current roster if they so choose. With the news about Garrett Crochet needing Tommy John surgery coming out today, that could come in handy.

Who Is A.J. Pollock

A.J. Pollock was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks 17th overall in the first round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur draft. Pollock would spend seven years in Arizona before signing with the Dodgers as a free agent in 2019. The outfielder spent three years in Los Angeles with a .282/.337/.519 slash line, 52 HRs, and 150 RBI. Ultimately, the trade made sense for both sides as the Dodgers lost Kenley Jansen to the Braves via free agency this offseason and had a definite need for the closing role, while the White Sox needed a solid outfielder to fill the everyday right field position.

Pollock Fits

While Pollock figures to be able to play right field on an everyday basis, his outfield experience has mainly been in center field and left field. Unfortunately for the Sox, Pollock is a right-handed hitter but provides plenty against right-handed pitching. The outfielder slashed .288/.360/.512 against left-handed pitching throwing in an OPS of .872 with 7 home runs. Against right-handed pitching, Pollock slashed .301/.353/.548 with an impressive .902 OPS adding 14 home runs. He may not blow you away with his career OPS+ of 116 but that is slightly above the league average of 100. The White Sox have been open about their desire to balance the lineup by adding a solid left-handed bat to handle right-handed pitching and while Pollock does not fill the entire wish list batting right-handed, he doesn’t seem to care about what hand the ball comes from.

Pollock can hit either-handed pitching fairly well but is a touch better against right-handers as the numbers show. Beyond all of that, Pollock was brought here to play defense and he should be able to do that quite well. The White Sox have had a glaring hole in right field since non-tendering Avisail Garcia following a knee surgery late in 2018. While Garcia was not a great defender in Chicago, Pollock should be and fits in with the White Sox quite well.

Adding an everyday solid defensive outfielder solidifies a White Sox squad looking to contend in 2022 and beyond. It should be noted that Pollock is coming here to hit somewhere between seventh and ninth in the lineup. He should not, and will not be asked to hit in the middle of the lineup and drive in 100 plus runs. Get on base and turn the order over to get additional at-bats for the likes of Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, and Jose Abreu.

If Pollock can consistently turn the lineup over and play solid defense in right field, the Sox have then at least made the trade of Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer to the Cubs for Kimbrel not sting so bad. That trade will always be a sore spot for White Sox fans unless, of course, they win a World Series!

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