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Dodgers finalize 4-year deal with A.J. Pollock

Outfielder provides a needed right-handed bat to lineup
January 24, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The signing of free-agent outfielder A.J. Pollock, announced on Saturday at FanFest, is part of management's goal to provide lineup balance and create more difficult matchups for opponents, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said."A big focus for us is how to achieve more consistency," said

LOS ANGELES -- The signing of free-agent outfielder A.J. Pollock, announced on Saturday at FanFest, is part of management's goal to provide lineup balance and create more difficult matchups for opponents, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said.
"A big focus for us is how to achieve more consistency," said Friedman, whose club has won six consecutive division titles, but lost the last two World Series. "We think we're going to be a really, really good team this year, extremely well balanced.
"I think our team last year was the most talented I've ever been around, but for a host of reasons, we weren't as consistent. A big thing for us is to avoid scoring zero, one or two runs. If we can score three or more, we'll win a lot of games with our pitching staff. It's just about being more consistent, and we feel A.J. fits really well with that. Consistency is something we're going to harp on a lot."
Pollock signed a four-year deal worth a reported a $55 million that includes a player opt-out after the third year and a player option for a fifth.
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Friedman said he sees Pollock as an everyday center fielder. He said Cody Bellinger would play corner outfield, plus some center and some first base. That leaves left field in a platoon for Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez and Alex Verdugo.
The 31-year-old Pollock, an All-Star and Gold Glove-winning center fielder in 2015, follows new hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc from division-rival Arizona.
"I'm not going to lie. We were looking at the Dodgers the whole time," said Pollock, who raved about the winning culture, local weather and passion of Dodgers fans. "With a winning culture like this, I couldn't ask for anything better. It hasn't really sunk in yet. It's just a great fit."

In 2018, he hit .257 with 21 homers and an .800 OPS, but he was limited to 113 games by a fractured thumb. He also was sidelined by a broken hand, a strained groin and a fractured elbow during his D-backs career.
"My injuries were kind of freak stuff," Pollock said.
Friedman agreed.
"Digging into it, we feel he does everything he can to stay on the field," said Friedman. "If he or someone gets hurt, the hallmark of our team is versatility."
At a fraction of the anticipated cost of free agent Bryce Harper, Pollock provides a needed right-handed bat to a lefty-heavy lineup, although in 2018 he had opposite splits, performing better against right-handed pitching than against left-handers.

"As we started to see a few years ago when teams start rearranging their rotation for their left-handed starters to get us is something we didn't want to confront again," Friedman said.
The Dodgers outfield has been light on right-handed bats since last month's trade of Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig to the Reds. Right-handed utilitymen Taylor and Hernandez could join Pollock in an all-righty outfield.
Pollock addressed the potential of fan scrutiny because he's not the popular Puig or the gifted Harper.
"Bryce is an unbelievable player, and Puig is fun to watch," he said. "I'm not going to be anything but the best I can be. I'm going to do my part and help the team win a ton of ballgames. Puig is exciting. When you play against him, he's all over the field, shows a ton of emotion, which I respect. But as far as me taking it personal, I concentrate on what I'm doing."
Because Pollock rejected a qualifying offer from Arizona, the Dodgers will forfeit their second-round pick in the Draft and $500,000 from their international signing pool.
Friedman said he wasn't sure if the Dodgers would remain under the competitive balance tax threshold. The Dodgers reportedly continue trade talks with Miami for catcher J.T. Realmuto.

*Ken Gurnick * has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.