While the Los Angeles Dodgers were tied to Bryce Harper, particularly after trading Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig to the Cincinnati Reds, the club addressed their need in the outfield by signing A.J. Pollock.
The 31-year-old was introduced during FanFest at Dodger Stadium, and explained he was focused on joining the Dodgers throughout free agency. Pollock signed a four-year, $55 million contract that includes incentives and potential to opt out.
According to the Associated Press, in order for Pollock to opt out, he will need to log a minimum of 1,000 plate appearances:
If Pollock has 1,000 plate appearances in 2020 and ’21, or 1,450 from 2019-21, he would gain the right to opt out of the contract after the 2021 season and still would receive the buyout if he does.
The benchmarks give Pollock some flexibility with his future if he stays on the field for most of the time, something that has been difficult for him in recent years.
After missing just five games in 2015, his only All-Star season, the former Arizona Diamondback played just 12 games in 2016 due to multiple injuries. He spent chunks of time on the disabled list in 2017 and 2018 as well.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts both downplayed concerns about Pollock’s durability. The team envisions Pollock playing at least 140 games in center field.
His contract is the latest in a long list of recent incentive-laden Dodgers contracts. The most notable example is Kenta Maeda, who signed an eight-year contract for just $24 million before the 2016 season. He has already earned nearly that much, though, over the first three seasons of that contract due to numerous incentives triggered by his innings pitched.
Clayton Kershaw’s extension in November also contains a $1 million bonus for every two games started after 24 games. Kershaw, like Pollock, has battled injuries in recent years but started 27 and 26 games in 2017 and ’18, respectively.