Free agent center fielder A.J. Pollock is up for grabs this offseason and Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the outfielder is asking for a deal in the five-year, $80-million range. While Nightengale adds that Pollock has attracted “plenty of interest” so far, no teams have been directly tied to him aside from the Astros.
Pollock, 30, wrapped his seventh season with the Diamondbacks in 2018 and voluntarily entered free agency after rejecting the club’s $17.9 million qualifying offer in November. Despite missing a significant chunk of the season with a fractured left thumb, the veteran outfielder finished the year with a respectable .257/.316/.484 batting line, career-best 21 home runs, 13 stolen bases and 2.5 fWAR across 460 plate appearances. He has yet to match the lofty career numbers he posted during his All-Star run in 2015, but still profiles as a solid defender in center field and an intriguing, if inconsistent contributor at the plate.
Even given his track record over the last few years, though, a five-year, $80-million deal (à la Lorenzo Cain‘s five-year, $80-million contract with the Brewers last winter) may be too steep a price to pay for an aging outfielder who has seen as many injuries — and as sharp of a decline — as Pollock has. Tack on the draft pick compensation due the Diamondbacks, and the price becomes not only steep, but exorbitant. By comparison, Cain inked his multi-year deal with Milwaukee following a much stronger campaign with the 2017 Royals, one that saw a .300 average, 25+ steals, and 4.3 fWAR from the 31-year-old center fielder.
Welp, that didn’t last long. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is going back on the injured list with more knee issues. If it matters the Sox say it’s not a big deal and they expect him back sooner rather than later, but they also said that his post-2017 knee surgery was just a “cleanup” at first and that basically cost him a year. So.
Pedroia has played in six games and is 2-for-20 with a walk.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Pedroia’s career may be nearing an end. Sure, he’s under contract for two more years after this season, but he’s also in a unfortunate spiral that so many players experience in their mid-to-late 30s.
Running a website like this makes it all the clearer, actually. When you search a player’s name in our CMS, you get every post in which he appears in reverse chronological order. Just about every long-tenured player ends with about six posts in which he is alternately placed on and activated from the disabled/injured list. Then an offseason link to a big feature in which he’s written about as being “at a crossroads” followed by something vague about “resuming baseball activities” and then, inevitably, the retirement announcement. I can’t count the number of guys whose careers I can tick off in that way by browsing the guts of this site.
I hope that’s not the case for Pedroia. I hope that there’s a “Pedroia wins Comeback Player of the Year” post in the future. Or at the very least a silly “Miller’s Crossing” reference in an “And that Happened” in which I say “the old man’s still an artist with the Thompson” after he peppers the ball around in some 3-for-4, two-double game. I want that stuff to happen.
It’s just that, if you watch this game long enough, you realize how unlikely that is once a player starts to break down.