The Los Angeles Dodgers have traded for Craig Kimbrel from the Chicago White Sox, with A.J. Pollock going to the ChiSox in the deal, per reports. This is apparently straight up one-for-one deal with no cash involved.
This is a pretty interesting trade — both players are expensive veterans on short term deals who have upside but also red flags. Kimbrel is in the final year of a deal that will pay him $16 million in 2022. At one time the best reliever in the game, Kimbrel signed a hefty free agent deal with the Chicago Cubs after the 2018 season, but struggled in his first two years with the Cubs, putting up ERAs of 6.53 and 5.28 in 2019 and 2020.
He was great again to start 2021, with a 0.49 ERA for the first four months, leading the ChiSox to acquire him for Codi Heuer and Nick Madrigal. Kimbrel had a 5.09 ERA and 4.56 FIP over the final two months for the Sox, however, then gave up 3 runs in 2 innings of work in three games in the ALDS against Houston. There was some speculation that Chicago would decline his $16 million option for 2022, though they ended up picking it up.
Pollock, meanwhile, is a 34 year old outfielder who has generally hit when he has been healthy, but who has struggled to stay on the field — last year’s 117 games played for Pollock was the third highest of his career, and the most since 2015. Pollock put up a .297/.355/.536 slash line in 2021 while playing mostly left field. He is owed $10 million in 2022, and has a $10 million player option for 2023 with a $5 million buyout.
The Dodgers get a replacement for Kenley Jansen, who left for the Atlanta Braves a couple of weeks ago, while the White Sox get the outfield bat they’ve needed while shedding a reliever who was unhappy about not closing. It makes sense for both sides.