Los Angeles, which values balance, flexibility, and the platoon advantage perhaps as much as any team in baseball, currently finds itself with a dearth of right-handed options at play. There’s Justin Turner, of course, but the switch-hitting Yasmani Grandal has left, and the club sent Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp away in a December swap with the Reds, leaving Chris Taylor and the Austin Barnes/Russell Martin duo as the only other penciled-in regulars who hit from the right side. IF/OF Enrique Hernandez demonstrated, for the first time, an ability to produce against same-side arms last year, but the 27-year-old’s meager .221/.288/.377 (82 wRC+) career line vs. righties isn’t likely to suffuse the aggregate-loving front office with much hope.
Though the team’s lefties – Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Max Muncy among them – rank as arguably the premier crop in the league, the team was often exposed against southpaws last season, especially late in games, or when facing a bullpen-heavy staff, and can’t hope to always rely on a platoon carousel around the diamond. Indeed, LA’s 2018 bunch was among the worst ever in late-game situations, speculatively owing to its limited bench options in crunch time, given the team’s propensity to hunt for opposite-side advantages in the middle innings.
Pollock, then, offers the perfect antidote, though perhaps not at the right price. As the premier center-fielder on the market, the 31-year-old remains in protracted limbo after early-offseason demands were deemed too high by a number of interested clubs. Recent demands are nebulous, though many have speculated the oft-injured outfielder may be forced to settle for a short-term, high-AAV deal, which would seem to place him right up any number of alleys in Los Angeles.
In his last two, injury-marred campaigns, Pollock’s offensive output has slipped considerably from his 2014-15 peak, when he delivered back-to-back 130 or higher wRC+ seasons. His center-field defense, however, has remained plus, at least per DRS, but he’s swiftly approaching the age at which even generational talents begin to experience a rapid diminishment in their ability to chase down fly balls. The Dodgers, under president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman, aren’t a team that will tolerate age-related decline in any facet, so any long-term deal with Los Angeles may be predicated on the 31-year-old eventually agreeing to move to a corner spot.
How such a signing would impact LA’s ostensible interest in Bryce Harper is unclear, but the club, which has run far away from massive free agent demands under the current regime, wouldn’t figure to be in play for both.