Rick Hahn and the White Sox front office have dramatically changed the trajectory of their offseason this morning. After it had become an almost foregone conclusion that the White Sox would be keeping Craig Kimbrel to start the season, the White Sox turned around and traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for outfielder A.J. Pollock.
This was first reported by Mark Feinsand not too long ago and has since been confirmed by Bob Nightengale, Jeff Passan, and others:
As Passan mentions above, this deal will be a straight contract swap, with no money exchanged. A.J. Pollock has two years and $22M left on his contract. He is owed $10M this year and $10M in 2023 via a player option with incentives and a $5M buyout. Kimbrel is on the final year of his deal and will make $16M this season. In total, the White Sox free up about $6M in space for this season.
Kimbrel’s history on the South Side will not be remembered fondly by White Sox fans, but in the end, the Dodgers get one of the best closers in the history of baseball in this move to replace the departed Kenley Jansen. The White Sox, in return, solve their RF concern with Pollock, who has a career .281/.338/.482 slash line. He hit .297/.355/.537 in 2021 with a 135 wRC+.
The only question for A.J. Pollock will be his health. He has a spotty injury history, having played only 117 games last season. To his credit, he did play 55/60 games in the shortened 2020 season, and when he is on the field, there is absolutely no question about his talent. He also helps the White Sox’ concerns against RHP, as he had a 140 wRC+ against them in 2021 with a .902 OPS.
On the surface, this is a really good move for the White Sox that gives them a short-term solution in RF for 2022 and likely 2023. The White Sox built a bullpen that made Craig Kimbrel expendable, and in return, filled a very important need for the 2022 team. Rick Hahn and team, nicely done.
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