Dodgers Land Kimbrel, Send Pollock to Chicago
Opening Day is just a few days away, but big news with fantasy implications keeps rolling in. The Dodgers and White Sox completed a trade Friday morning that sent veteran closer Craig Kimbrel to Los Angeles in an even swap for outfielder A.J. Pollock. Kimbrel is owed $16 million in the final year of his contract, while Pollock will earn $10 million with a player option for 2023.
This trade makes sense all around here. While the Dodgers have depth up and down the roster, including the bullpen, there’s no doubt they’re content filling a Kenley Jansen-sized hole in the ninth inning. After Jansen signed with the Atlanta Braves, it appeared Blake Treinen would be the best fit to take over closing duties. But the team, and Treinen, have been outspoken in recent weeks about their desire to keep him in a high-leverage setup role. While the addition of Daniel Hudson brought them quality depth, there was no clear-cut answer for who would take over the ninth inning on a nightly basis. The situation was looking like a fluid one entering the season.
In comes Kimbrel. The 33-year-old right-hander has 372 career saves. There’s a good chance he gets to 400 in 2022. Last season, Kimbrel produced an excellent 2.26 ERA and 100 strikeouts over 59 2/3 innings while converting 24 saves. But it absolutely was a tale of two halves. He was incredible with the Cubs until the trade deadline with an 0.49 ERA. Once he was acquired by the White Sox, Kimbrel was relegated to setup duties behind Liam Hendriks, a role that did not fit the long-time closer. He went on to yield a 5.09 ERA over 23 innings with the White Sox. Kimbrel now returns to the ninth inning, where he belongs.
With Pollock leaving town, this clears up playing time at second base for 24-year-old Gavin Lux, as Chris Taylor will likely shift to left field most days. Lux is still trying to find his footing in the majors after a breakout 2019 in the minor leagues. He hit .242/.328/.364 with seven homers and four steals across 381 plate appearances last season. Now, he’ll get his biggest opportunity to prove himself yet.
For the White Sox, they’re adding a much-needed proven outfielder. Pollock will take over right field ahead of out-of-position Andrew Vaughn and Adam Engel, who boasts a career .641 OPS. Pollock had an excellent season for the Dodgers last year, producing a .297/.355/.536 triple-slash with 21 home runs and nine steals over 422 plate appearances. While he’ll likely hit towards the bottom of the order, he’ll find more consistent playing time in a loaded Chicago lineup, granted he can stay healthy. Pollock is currently being drafted with an average pick of 219.1 in Yahoo leagues as the 59th outfielder off the board.
Jacob deGrom‘S MRI REVEALS STRESS REACTION
The Mets, fantasy managers, and baseball fans all around received a troubling update on Jacob deGrom on Friday. After he reported shoulder soreness on Thursday, an MRI revealed a stress reaction in his scapula. The team announced that the 33-year-old ace will be shut down for four weeks before he is re-evaluated. An all-clear would mean deGrom could start the process of ramping back up for the season. It’s a significant blow to the Mets and fantasy managers who were hoping for a full season from the best pitcher on the planet. deGrom pitched to an other-worldly 1.08 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, and 14.28 K/9 over 92 innings last season. He looked strong to start the spring, striking out ten batters over five innings with one run and no walks allowed. It’s difficult to evaluate deGrom from a fantasy perspective because any innings he can give this season are sure to be quality innings. How many innings he can ultimately provide is up in the air. One thing is certain, it is truly a bummer for baseball fans, whether or not you were taking the risk on deGrom in fantasy leagues.
With deGrom sidelined, promising starter Tylor Megill is essentially a lock to begin the season in the rotation. The 26-year-old right-hander finished 2021 with a 4.52 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 99 strikeouts over 89 2/3 innings for the Mets. His biggest struggles came against left-handed hitters. Southpaws produced a .995 OPS against Megill last season. He worked on adding a cutter over the offseason to help combat that weakness against lefties. This spring, he’s tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. If he can really figure out left-handed hitters, Megill could be a steal at pick 248.1 on average in Yahoo leagues.
American League Quick Hits: Chris Sale (ribs) underwent an MRI which revealed “some healing”... Miguel Sano was scratched from Friday’s lineup to undergo a dental procedure... Kyle Lewis is ready to begin serving as a designated hitter in minor league spring games... The Blue Jays signed manager Charlie Montoyo to a contract extension through 2023 with club options for 2024 and 2025... Mike Zunino is dealing with shoulder inflammation but if “confident” he’ll be ready for Opening Day... Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Friday there’s “real concern” Andrew Chafin (groin) won’t be ready for Opening Day... Ken Giles will be shut down for a couple weeks due to a finger tendon issue... The Mariners have signed Tommy Milone to a minor league contract... The Tigers optioned Isaac Paredes to Triple-A Toledo... The Astros re-assigned Korey Lee and David Hensley to minor league camp... Jose De Leon is dealing with a strained rotator cuff... The White Sox optioned Zack Collins, Matt Foster, Jake Burger, and Adam Haseley to Triple-A... The Orioles are considering re-signing Matt Harvey...
National League Quick Hits: Dylan Floro will not be ready for Opening Day but is in a “good spot”, according to manager Don Mattingly... Nick Madrigal was scratched from the Cubs’ lineup Friday against the Brewers due to leg fatigue... The Diamondbacks signed Merrill Kelly to a two-year, $18 million contract extension with a $7 million club option for 2025... Wade Miley will be shut down for ten days after an MRI showed inflammation in his left elbow... Andrelton Simmons is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day... Matthew Boyd (elbow) threw a bullpen session Friday... Arizona reassigned Dan Straily to minor league camp and optioned Matthew Peacock and Kyle Nelson to Triple-A... Anthony Alford is dealing with a right hand issue and is considered day-to-day... The Phillies re-signed Jorge Bonifacio to a minor league contract... The Marlins sent Isan Diaz outright to Triple-A Jacksonville... The Cardinals reassigned Matthew Liberatore to minor league camp...