The Dodgers have reportedly agreed to a four-year deal in the vicinity of $50 million with free-agent outfielder A.J. Pollock, which could remove them once and for all from the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.
Harper-to-L.A. seemed like a real possibility when the offseason began, given the Dodgers’ deep pockets and their need for another middle-of-the-order bat. That need only intensified when the Dodgers traded outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig to Cincinnati on Dec. 21.
Pollock projects as the Dodgers’ opening day centerfielder. As of now, he’d be flanked by some combination of Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor, but a Pederson trade could occur between now and opening day. A report last week indicated the White Sox are in on Pederson.
If the Dodgers have indeed moved on from the idea of signing Harper, it would benefit the Phillies similarly to how the Yankees’ surprisingly lukewarm interest in Manny Machado has. Teams like the Dodgers and Yankees are uniquely qualified to match the Phillies’ offers, so those teams filling their needs with other free agents is a meaningful development for the Phils. If there are any two teams the Phillies would love to see out of the race for a superstar, it’s the Yankees and Dodgers.
It was assumed that Pollock would sign after Harper, but it’s Jan. 24 and Pollock likely wanted to solidify his payday and situation. Pollock is well-rounded — he can hit for average and power, steal bases and play solid defense — but injuries have defined his career the most to this point. Over the last three seasons, Pollock played in just 49 percent of his team’s games.
It is interesting that Pollock’s deal is for nearly the same price as Andrew McCutchen’s, just with an additional year. McCutchen, who at 32 is a little over a year older than Pollock, got a straight three-year, $50 million contract from the Phils. Prior to Wednesday, McCutchen was the only position player in baseball this offseason to join another team on a contract longer than two years. Pollock’s contract differs in that it is “filled with incentives, escalators and opt-outs,” according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
One wonders if the Phillies would still choose to sign McCutchen to that dollar figure if they could have a mulligan. Much like the Carlos Santana signing last December, the Phils gave out a rich contract relatively early in the free-agent process that appeared to be a market-setter but instead ended up being an outlier.
That was further illustrated by the cheap deal Nick Markakis ultimately signed with the Braves this week — one year, $6 million — coming off a season in which he played 162 games, made the All-Star team and hit .297/.366/.440.
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