Pollock joins dozens of players as MLB free agents
This morning at 9:00am Eastern Daylight Time, dozens of Major League Baseball players officially became free agents. Those players are now free to negotiate and sign with any team they like.
In the coming days their ranks will swell as a few more players and teams decide whether or not to exercise contract options for 2019 and beyond. The biggest name making such a decision is Los Angeles Dodgers lefty ace Clayton Kershaw, who has until the clock strikes midnight on Halloween night to make his decision.
Much of the speculation regarding the Philadelphia Phillies has centered around two players, shortstop Manny Machado and outfielder Bryce Harper. The Phillies have been widely regarded for months, if not years now, to be among the leading contenders to land one or both of those in-their-prime superstars.
However, the odds that the Phillies will actually land both players would be long. Each is expected to command a massive contract. And judging by social media response, Machado has seriously damaged his reputation among Phillies fans with his comments and antics during this postseason.
If the Phillies decide that Machado is indeed not for them, they could turn their attention to upgrading the starting pitching rotation. I wrote previously here at Phillies Nation about 29-year-old left-hander Patrick Corbin, who seems like a perfect fit for their needs.
What happens if the Phillies are out on Machado, and then lose out in the bidding on Harper? Does that mean there is no way to upgrade the lineup for the 2019 season and beyond? Not necessarily.
Bovada released its odds this morning of certain big-name MLB free agents signing with a particular organization. The Phillies were indeed listed as the favorites to sign both Harper and Machado.
That doesn’t mean the odds-makers in Vegas feel that the Phillies are favorites to sign both players. It just means that, individually, the Phillies are favorites. If John Middleton and Matt Klentak were to actually get either player’s signature on a contract, the odds against the Phillies then signing the other free agent would likely rise substantially.
Bovada also listed the Phillies in regard to a few others. They are listed at the third-best odds to land closer Craig Kimbrel, tied for the fourth-best odds to land starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, and tied for second on the odds to land third baseman Josh Donaldson. While they list odds on six teams for Corbin, the Phillies are not one of those.
Interestingly, Bovada has listed the Phillies as the co-favorites to land outfielder A.J. Pollock as well. Should the Phillies fail in their efforts to land Harper, the soon-to-be 31-year old Pollock could be a backup plan.
Pollock is a right-handed hitter and fielder who has spent the vast majority of his seven-year big-league career as a center fielder. He has played the entirety of that career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who made him their first round choice at 17th overall out of Notre Dame back in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft.
Harper reached Arizona in 2012, and collected his first big-league hit against the Phillies on April 23 of that season. With a career slash line of .281/.338/.467 and with 74 homers and 103 stolen bases across 2,507 plate appearances, Pollock is certainly not comparable to Harper.
He has also proven to be an injury risk, with his 2015 National League All-Star season as his lone full campaign in MLB. This past season, Pollock again missed a long stretch from mid-May through the entirety of the month of June. When healthy he produced 21 homers, 21 doubles, and 65 RBI with 61 runs scored in 113 games.
An outstanding defender, Pollock won an NL Gold Glove Award for his play in center field during that 2015 All-Star campaign. He committed just one error in each of the last two seasons.
His ‘Total Zone‘ mark fell into the negatives this season for the first time since 2014. This may be a sign that as he enters his 30’s and considering all of his various injuries, Pollock isn’t going to cover the same ground that he did in his youth.
Any signing of Pollock would have to be considered a major disappointment for Phillies fans. He is a nice player, a gamer, the kind that would go over well at Citizens Bank Park. But his signing would likely mean that the club failed on Harper and was just settling.
It’s past time that the Phillies can be settling for second-best when it comes to battling for a legitimate superstar. Middleton needs to do what it takes to woo Harper and leave the Pollock’s of the world for the runners-up on Bovada’s board.