Dodgers Acquire Craig Kimbrel For AJ Pollock In Trade With White Sox

The Los Angeles Dodgers traded AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox for Craig Kimbrel, who slides into their closer role left vacant when Kenley Jansen signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves.

Kimbrel is set to earn $16 million in the final year of his contract, which is the same salary Jansen is receiving from the Braves. L.A. and Jansen both had interest in coming to terms on a new deal, but the Dodgers reportedly wanted to first shed salary due to luxury tax implications after signing Freddie Freeman.

Kimbrel went a combined 4-5 with 24 saves and a 2.26 ERA for the Chicago Cubs and White Sox last season. He earned an eighth career All-Star Game selection and posted a 42.6% strikeout rate that was third-best in the Majors.

However, the right-hander did have most of his success with the Cubs. After being traded to the White Sox, Kimbrel went 2-2 with one save, a 5.09 ERA, 4.56 FIP and 1.22 WHIP over 24 games.

Prior to the trade, Kimbrel put the finishing touches on the Cubs’ combined no-hitter against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 24, 2021.

Kimbrel is ninth on the MLB all-time saves leaders list with 372. That has him ahead of Jansen, who is ranked 13th all-time with 350 career saves. Jansen of course is the Dodgers’ all-time saves leader.

Pollock’s career with Dodgers

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 hit .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 and includes a $5 million buyout.

Why did the Dodgers trade for Kimbrel?

Even with some of his struggles to finish the 2021 season, Kimbrel gives the Dodgers an established closer who frees up Blake Treinen to remain in the preferred fireman role.

When previously discussing how the Dodgers would approach replacing Jansen as closer, manager Dave Roberts was hesitant to name Treinen as the successor because of the value and versatility he has.

Instead, Roberts explained the Dodgers would rely on multiple relief pitchers in save situations. Trading for Kimbrel further lengthens what should be a formidable bullpen and preserves flexibility in how to utilize Treinen.

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