Willie Mays could've been a Yankee

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Between 1951 and 1973, the Yankees won 12 pennants and seven World Championships. Between 1951 and 1973, Willie Mays established himself as the greatest centerfielder in the history of baseball, and depending on how you measure it, one of the top three or four players of all time (I got Ruth and Wagner 1-2, and I’d be hard pressed to put anyone else above Mays). Imagine, then, what could have happened if the Yankees had listened to their scouts and signed him in 1949 and 1950 when they had the chance. Seems they could have had Ernie Banks too.

I’m not a huge alternate history buff, but the implications of Willie Mays on the 1950s and 1960s New York Yankees boggle the mind. You have to figure that he moves Mantle off of centerfield and to a corner. Does Mantle hold up better health-wise playing right field? Heck, maybe the Yankees try to make Mantle work at shortstop where he started out, he flames out on defense and is allowed to get signed by the St. Louis Browns or something. Does Mays gain the same reputation for his speed and defense playing in a smaller centerfield in the non-running American League? Does Giants owner Horace Stoneham get the same kind of offer he received from San Francisco to move the team west, or is he stuck with his original plan to move the Giants to Minnesota? The shoes that drop (or don’t) after that business is dealt with are innumerable, but this Braves fan likes the idea of there being no Minnesota Twins in 1991.

I’m sure there are 1,000 other implications of such a move. If you have any particularly mind-blowing ones, by all means, offer them up in the comments.

A.J. Pollock may be the Dodgers’ next free agent target

A.J. Pollock
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Free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock has landed on the Dodgers’ radar, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal says the two appear to be in discussions regarding a deal for 2019. Terms of any prospective deal have not been released, but interest is presumed to be fairly high as he checks two boxes on their wish list: that of a right-handed hitter and an experienced centerfielder.

Pollock, 31, rounded out a seven-year career with the Diamondbacks in 2018. While he was sidelined for nearly seven weeks after fracturing his left thumb on a dive gone wrong, he finished the season batting a hearty .257/.316/.484 with a career-best 21 home runs, 13 steals (in 15 chances), and 2.5 fWAR across 460 plate appearances. He received a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the club at the end of the year and elected to enter free agency in hopes of a better deal, which some have estimated at five years and $80 million.

So far, it’s not clear whether teams are willing to meet those terms. Pollock profiles as both a solid hitter and defender, but he hasn’t played a season in full health since 2015, which may be a deal-breaker for those in search of long-term talent. Even with that caveat, however, the Dodgers are far from the only club willing to enter negotiations with the outfielder this winter. The Braves have been linked to Pollock since December, and the Mets and Reds have expressed varying levels of interest as well.