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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.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.