The Los Angeles Dodgers’ biggest signing of the offseason came at the end of January when they inked outfielder A.J. Pollock to a four-year contract worth an estimated $55 million. The contract can either be three, four or five years depending on options, and includes incentives.
Pollock spent the last seven seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks but missed a good amount of time due to injury. The 31-year-old has dealt with a broken elbow, broken thumb and strained groin.
Yet, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is not concerned with Pollock’s injury history and views him as the team’s everyday center fielder.
“We envision him playing center field. Obviously, he’s missed some time over the last few years,” Friedman acknowledged. “As we dug into it, the question is, is it predictive as you look forward? And like he said, most of them have been impact type injuries.
“He’s had one soft tissue injury. You get into how well a guy takes care of himself, how clean does he live, eat, and those things that factor into player health. As we dug into it, we felt really good about that he does everything he possibly can to stay on the field. And to the extent that he gets hurt or someone else gets hurt, I think that’s kind of a hallmark of our team.”
Friedman went on to add a major factor behind signing Pollock was to help against left-handed pitching. “I think the team last year was the most talented team I’ve ever been around, but for a host of reasons, some bad luck and some real, we weren’t as consistent,” Friedman said.
“And I think a big thing for us is to avoid the games where we score zero, one or two runs as often as we can, score three or more, and we will win a lot of games doing that. Especially with our pitching staff. And so for us, it’s just about trying to be more consistent. And we feel like A.J. fits in really well with that not just in 2019 but also as we look ahead.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts shared a similar sentiment about Pollock after watching him from afar the last handful of seasons. While the Dodgers have heavily relied on platoon players, he doesn’t see Pollock as that.
“I don’t think you go out and sign a player like that to even bring in the word platoon,” Roberts said.
“You look at last year, I think he hit right-handers better than he did left-handers. He’s a guy that’s going to play every day, (but) I think the idea of giving him days off, getting ahead of things with the rigors of a long season, that’s something that I’m going to have a conversation with him. When you’re talking about everyday versus not everyday, he’s an everyday player.”
While Pollock himself realizes that he has a history of injuries, he deemed himself to be healthy and capable of playing at least 150 games. “I feel like most of my injuries were impact injuries, kind of freak stuff,” he said.
“I feel like I do a really good job keeping my body in good shape. I just got to keep trusting the process. I think some things haven’t gone my way as far as injuries. But absolutely, I think a lot of my injuries weren’t really overuse, it was kind of like I said, kind of freak stuff. I’m not even thinking about injuries. I’m ready to go.”