Justin Turner: AJ Pollock Trade Had Significant Impact On Dodgers Clubhouse

One week from beginning the 2022 regular season without a clearly defined closer, the Los Angeles Dodgers traded AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox for Craig Kimbrel. The eight-time All-Star gave L.A. a replacement for Kenley Jansen and further bolstered a deep bullpen.

However, in trading Pollock, the Dodgers parted with one of their more productive position players. The move also took a right-handed hitter out of a lineup that already was left-handed heavy.

The Pollock trade took place on April Fools’ Day, when the Dodgers only had an intrasquad game to fill time during the lone off day of their revised Cactus League schedule.

During the latest “Holding Kourt Podcast” episode, Justin Turner revealed how the Dodgers clubhouse reacted to the Pollock trade, which he initially thought was a prank:

“This is just another part of the game. You understand it’s a business and a possibility but when it happens, it just hits you. I was literally sick to my stomach this morning because we all love AJ and everything he brings, not only on the field — couple great seasons for us, 20-plus homers and some big homers, and robbing homers, everything to do with homers — but the amount of respect he had from everyone. The way he chopped it up with guys, it was very playful and open. Kind of getting on one another, back and forth, and to find out he got traded, it hit a lot of us petty hard. Especially this close to the season. …

“And the other tough part was we found out about it in the morning. Obviously, AJ probably knew about it before any of us. He sent a text in the group just saying how much he loved us and loved playing with us, and thank you for everything and wishes us the best of luck. A bunch of guys were sending him texts back, but we had a five-inning intrasquad on the backfield, and I think AJ came in and got all his stuff out of the locker while we were all on the backfield. So that’s the [expletive] part, is didn’t even get to go up and give him a squeeze and tell him how much we love him and appreciate everything he’s done and wish him the best of luck.

Turner did find a silver lining in that Pollock now gets to reunite with Joe Kelly, and the Dodgers have added a vaunted closer in Kimbrel:

“We will definitely miss Pollo. At least he gets to go be with Joe (Kelly), and I think there’s going to be a pretty good opportunity for him to play right field every day over there in Chicago. With us, it was really a numbers thing. We have too many good players and they honestly were going to have a hard time figuring out how to get everyone at-bats, especially with the DH this year. …

“Like I said, good news is getting Craig Kimbrel over. Some serious, serious experience. An eight-time All-Star, closer, stopper. But the sad part is having to give up AJ for that.”

In January 2019, the Dodgers signed Pollock to a four-year, $55 million contract that included a player option for 2023. Pollock’s deal also had an opt-out clause after the 2021 season, but he fell 11 plate appearances short of being able to exercise it.

Over three seasons with the Dodgers, Pollock batted .282/.337/.519 with 51 doubles, 52 home runs and 150 RBI over 258 games. He was a 2021 Gold Glove Award finalist in left field, which was won by Tyler O’Neill of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Pollock’s player option for the 2023 season is $10 million but can increase to $15 million if he logs a requisite number of plate appearances this year. His deal includes a $5 million buyout as well.

Turner was among Pollock’s former Dodgers teammates to share farewell messages on social media.

Roberts: Pollock trade ‘win-win’

While recognizing the Dodgers parted with a productive player in Pollock, manager Dave Roberts believes the trade was equally beneficial for his club and the White Sox.

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