What the A.J. Pollock Signing Means for the N.L. West

The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a five-year deal with free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock formerly of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The deal is said to be a five-year deal worth $60 million. As reported by Ken Rosenthal of MLB.com, the deal includes an opt-out clause for Pollock if he reaches an undisclosed number of at-bats over his first three seasons. The deal also gives Pollock the opportunity to buy out the last year of the deal for $5 million. 

The $12 million Average Annual Value (AAV) of the contract is certainly not “break the bank” money for the Dodgers, but it does seem to take the Dodgers out of the running for Bryce Harper. However, that doesn’t mean the Dodgers are done making moves. They are now said to have renewed interest in pursuing a trade for Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. It has been rumored that the Marlins have been asking for Cody Bellinger as part of a trade package and the Dodgers were reluctant to trade Bellinger. It will be interesting to see if the Dodgers stance softens now that Pollock is under contract.

Of course, the larger significance of this signing is what it says about the competitive balance in the National League West. The Dodgers seem to be the only team that is actively re-shaping their roster in a positive way. And with no other team pushing them, is there a need for them to make a blockbuster trade (they have been linked to the Indians for either Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer) or to make a last second push to re-sign Manny Machado? Let’s take a quick look at the rest of the division. 

Arizona Diamondbacks– Because of the dollars associated with the Pollack deal, the Diamondbacks will be well positioned to stockpile draft picks. That does, however, beg the question of what the roster will look like in 2019. With the departures of Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, the Diamondbacks have a lot of offensive production to replace for a team that won 82 games last year. 

Colorado Rockies– The Rockies signed free agent second baseman Daniel Murphy and are optimistic that Murphy can put up great numbers in the hitter-friendly environment of Coors Field. Will that be enough to move further than they did last year when they advanced to the NLDS, losing to the Milwaukee Brewers. The team has already lost DJ LeMahieu, who signed with the Yankees. Even if Murphy can replace that production, the big question heading into Spring Training is if the team has done enough to make a push not only past the Dodgers, but into the World Series.

San Francisco Giants– The Giants have a roster that is filled with aging veteran players. Certainly a roster with names like Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval, and Johnny Cueto to name a few is not one to dismiss. But aside from signing left-handed pitchers Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz, the Giants have been quiet this offseason. Maybe they can make a run with a veteran roster, but it’s hard to see that as a formula over 162 games. 

San Diego Padres– The Padres are a tough team to figure out. They had one of the biggest free agent signings last year, landing first baseman Eric Hosmer, but they are still building a team around him and while the club has some intriguing prospects, they certainly don’t look to be much of a factor this year. The Padres have been linked as a “mystery team” for several big name free agents, but is their interest level really serious? And, if so, are they an attractive landing spot? Either way, the Padres look to have a lot of work to do to move beyond the cellar of this division.