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Dodgers sign A.J. Pollock

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock.

The deal: $55 million over four years, but with an opt-out after year three if he reaches a set number of plate appearances. There is also, if he does not opt-out, a fifth year player option for $10 million, with a $5 million buyout. It’s a rather complicated structure, but as Jeff Passan notes, it seems aimed at keeping the Dodgers under the luxury tax, as it counts, for luxury tax calculation purposes, as a $12 million a year deal.

We might ask why perhaps the richest team in baseball has worked so hard to stay under the luxury tax, but I suppose that’s a topic for another day.

Pollock, 31, has played his entire career with the Diamondbacks. He missed nearly seven weeks last season after fracturing his left thumb on a dive gone wrong and finished the season with a line of .257/.316/.484 with a career-best 21 home runs and 13 steals in 460 plate appearances. His production fell off pretty sharply following his return. Whether that was due to rust or something else remains to be seen. For his entire career he has hit .281/.338/.484 while playing excellent defense. He has had some durability issues to be sure, but when he has been healthy, he has produced.

The Dodgers, fresh off of trading away Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, have room in the outfield, that’s for sure. At the moment the depth chart has Joc Pederson in left, Cody Bellinger in center and Enrique Hernandez in right. Pederson, though, is more of platoon guy and there have been some rumors that the Dodgers might consider trading him. Pollock, for his part, has played center field in 573 of his 594 games in the outfield.

It’s an interesting addition for the Dodgers. One that would seem to take them out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, even if they were never strongly in it. One that, also, puts some pressure on clubs looking for outfield help who had considered Pollock and option.

Max Scherzer: ‘There’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions’

Max Scherzer
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MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.

Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.

Scherzer’s statement:

After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.

Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.

Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.