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Inbox: Should Braves give Pollock 1-year deal?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman fields fans' questions
January 12, 2019

Could Alex Anthopoulos go with a one-year deal for $18-20 million for A.J. Pollock? Other than Pollock, what options seem likely for the corner-outfield spot? -- @kitcopeland51 via TwitterGiven every deal includes some sort of risk, it would certainly be more comfortable to make this kind of gamble on Pollock

Could Alex Anthopoulos go with a one-year deal for $18-20 million for A.J. Pollock? Other than Pollock, what options seem likely for the corner-outfield spot?
-- @kitcopeland51 via Twitter

Given every deal includes some sort of risk, it would certainly be more comfortable to make this kind of gamble on Pollock as opposed to providing the multiyear deal he's seeking. The hesitance in making Pollock a multiyear offer is rooted in the fact he has not played more than 113 games during any of the three seasons that have followed his down-ballot 2015 season.
But a player in this position also certainly has reason to seek the insurance provided by a multiyear deal. The Braves' ability to complete a one-year, $23 million deal with Josh Donaldson was influenced by proximity to his home, his childhood fandom of the Braves and the relationship he already shared with general manager Anthopoulos.
Let's just say Pollock reaches a point where he'd be willing to accept the offer you've proposed, the Braves would have the financial flexibility necessary to complete such a deal. But there is certainly plenty of reason to be concerned about the medical history of this outfielder, who fractured his right hand in 2014, fractured his elbow in '16, missed significant time with a groin strain in '17 and missed a portion of last year with a fractured left thumb.
At least two of these injuries (fractured elbow and fractured thumb) were a result of aggressive plays made in the field. Still, even if you're going to say these were freak injuries that likely won't occur again, before making any kind of significant commitment for one year or more, you have to account for the mounting lingering effects.
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Pollock, 31, hit .236 with 10 homers (one homer per 26.3 at-bats) and produced a .704 OPS in the 73 games played after he returned to action in 2018. Donaldson hit .280 with three homers and a .920 OPS in the 16 regular-season games he played after returning from the disabled list last year. The small sample size does not erase the risk factor associated with his $23 million deal.
Nor should his presence erase thoughts of the Braves taking a one-year chance on Pollock if given the opportunity. But doubling down can be every bit as painful as it can be profitable.
Is your New Year's resolution to mention J.T. Realmuto in every Inbox this year a hint that Anthopoulos is about to drop a Realmuto trade on us? Might wanna hurry, the Dodgers will be in hot pursuit after Yasmani Grandal signed with the Brewers.
-- @jase1129 via Twitter

I get what you're saying, but the only reason this landscape change would hurt the Braves would be if the Marlins stick to their reluctance to trade a two-year asset within a division they won't have a chance to win within the next two seasons.
We've discussed this multiple times over the past couple of months, and as the holiday season approached, I mentioned the altering landscape might eventually favor the Braves, who have the prospect assets available to trump most any offer Miami might receive.
The Braves haven't placed a significant focus on Realmuto since meeting with the Marlins during the early portion of the Winter Meetings. This isn't to say they haven't occasionally checked to see if the price has dropped, much like some of you might do while viewing StubHub for Super Bowl tickets over the next few weeks. But this due diligence has not seemingly created any recent traction.
At this moment, is Nick Markakis the favorite to be our Opening Day right fielder?
-- @JackPonthie via Twitter

If I was setting the odds, I'd probably list him as the favorite, simply because when there is not an obvious option for either party, you tend to lean toward the safe feeling of familiarity. Coming off a season during which he won a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award, Markakis is understandably seeking a multiyear deal or a raise of the $11 million salary he received each of the past four years in Atlanta.
Markakis' second-half regression creates a concern. But if it reaches a point where he's willing to accept a one-year deal that may include an option, he might prove to be the best option. But the Braves will likely continue to evaluate potential trades and Pollock's market before creating a potential reunion.
I dare you to include Realmuto in this answer. Is Austin Riley a legitimate option to play left field this year?
-- @MicahGarner50 via Twitter

Not if he gets traded to the Marlins.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.