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.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.