A.J. Pollock has missed a considerable amount of time with injuries during his career, but he offers a well-rounded skill set and is sure to be a top free-agent target for clubs in need of outfield help this offseason.
Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the veteran center fielder.
Is Pollock the answer if Markakis departs Atlanta?
Nov. 20: With Nick Markakis on the free-agent market, the Braves may need to find a replacement in the outfield. In matching free agents to each NL club, Sports Illustrated's Jon Tayler has A.J. Pollock as the right fit for Atlanta.
"Pollock's injury history is worrisome, and his last two years have been largely unexceptional at the plate, but he can handle center or the corners and boasts a lot of upside, even at 31," Tayler writes.
Prior to being injured last season, Pollock was off to a great start, hitting .293/.349/.620 with 11 homers through May 14. Though he struggled after returning, as Tayler notes, there is high potential upside should Pollock stay healthy and regain his form at the plate.
Will Pollock sign with Giants? Some think so
Nov. 19: The entry portion of MLB Trade Rumors' free-agent prediction contest closed Sunday night, and MLBTR shared the voting breakdown Monday.
Of the nearly 7,000 people who entered the contest, 22.9 percent think center fielder A.J. Pollock is going to sign with the Giants. Every other team was chosen less than 10 percent of the time, with the Indians finishing second at 9.2 percent and the D-backs third at 9.0 percent.
With one of the most spacious home parks in the Majors, the Giants could use a capable defender in center field, which Pollock has proven to be during his career. Since 2000, when AT&T Park opened, Giants center fielders rank 28th in MLB with -117 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Meanwhile, Pollock has racked up 50 DRS in center field as a big leaguer.
Pollock would also help San Francisco's lineup after the club's outfielders recorded a combined 84 wRC+ in 2018, finishing 28th in MLB. Since 2014, Pollock has posted a 118 wRC+.
Pollock rejected a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer from Arizona, so San Francisco will need to forfeit a Draft pick to sign him. As a team that doesn't receive revenue sharing and didn't exceed the luxury-tax threshold in 2018, the Giants will lose their second-highest selection in the 2019 Draft, as well as $500,000 from their international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period, if they sign a free agent who declined the qualifying offer.
The Giants could be one of many suitors for the 30-year-old, who is by far the best center fielder on the free-agent market.
Is Pollock an OF option for the Indians?
Nov. 17: Cleveland took a small step towards addressing its outfield questions when it acquired 25-year-old Jordan Luplow from Pittsburgh on Wednesday, but adding an All-Star-caliber starter in the outfield would still be one of the most signficant improvements that the Tribe could make for 2019. That's why Jim Bowden writes for The Athletic that the Indians should take a chance on Pollock. MLB.com's Mike Petriello agrees, noting that Pollock or fellow free agent Andrew McCutchen look like the best fits.
When Pollock is healthy, he's an MVP-caliber talent, as he showed in 2015, when he hit .315/.367/.498 with 20 homers and 39 steals while winning the National League Gold Glove Award in center field. Despite playing only 113 games in 2018 -- indicative of his injury-riddled resume -- he still set a career high with 21 long balls, including 11 homers and nine steals in just his first 40 games of the season.
The 30-year-old center fielder appears to be completely healthy now, and as a reunion with Michael Brantley appears to be off the table, Pollock represents the best option on the market for a Cleveland team not willing to pay the steep price for Bryce Harper. With Brantley and Josh Donaldson on their way out of Cleveland, Pollock's powerful bat would go a long way in adding length to a lineup featuring Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor.
Will Mets pursue Pollock?
Nov. 14: Twelve MLB Network Radio personalities offered up their predictions Wednesday for where 10 of the top free agents will land this offseason, and opinions were all over the map regarding A.J. Pollock.
The Mets were the most chosen destination for Pollock, but New York led with only three votes. Seven other teams -- the Giants, Phillies, Braves, D-backs, Indians, Padres and Rangers -- were picked by at least one person.
It certainly wouldn't be surprising to see Pollock sign with the Mets, as the club has had trouble finding an all-around center fielder.
With a glut of corner outfielders, the Mets have given substantial playing time in center to players such as Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Nimmo in recent years. Juan Lagares is New York's best defensive outfielder and a one-time Gold Glove Award winner in center, but his offensive struggles (lifetime 85 wRC+) and persistent injury problems have limited his impact.
Adding Pollock would answer the Mets' long-standing center-field question and allow Conforto and Nimmo to settle in as the starting left and right fielder, respectively, with Jay Bruce at first base. New York will also need to fit Cespedes in at some point, but he is expected to be out until the second half after undergoing surgeries on both feet.
Pollock rejected a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer from the D-backs, so teams will need to forfeit one or more Draft picks to sign him, putting another mark in the cons column below his injury history and age (soon to be 31). However, this year's crop of free-agent center fielders is weak, which could lead to a robust market for the veteran.
Deciding between Pollock and Brantley
Nov. 13: When it comes to choosing the second-best free-agent outfielder -- that is, the No. 2 option after Bryce Harper -- the decision could come down to Michael Brantley and A.J. Pollock. As is, there are a number of similarities between the two as veterans north of 30 years old who possess top-of-the-lineup skills and solid defensive ability but also come with a history of missing time.
Ryan Fagan of The Sporting News weighs the choice between Brantley and Pollock, making the case for each by breaking down various aspects of their games, including the fact that Pollock was offered -- and declined -- the $17.9 million qualifying offer, thus saddling him with Draft-pick compensation. The verdict?
"Teams will roll the injury dice to sign either guy," Fagan writes. "Pollock has the higher upside, but for a team that is loathe to part with any draft pick, Brantley might be the better bet."
Is Pollock a good gamble?
Nov. 10: Center fielder A.J. Pollock has had an injury history that will make teams think twice about the free agent this offseason, but could he be a good gamble for certain clubs? MLB.com's Andrew Simon breaks it down, and given Pollock's value both offensively and defensively when he's healthy, there are several clubs that may take a chance with a potentially big payoff. They include the Indians, Rockies, Mets, Phillies and Mariners.
Simon notes that "on one hand, the injury-plagued Pollock has collected 500 plate appearances in a season only once in his career, during a breakout 2015. On the other hand, his average of 3.3 WAR per season since '13 balloons to 5.9 per 650 plate appearances." Defensively, Pollock has well-above-average sprint speed at 28.2 feet/second, as well as plus-6 Outs Above Average, per Statcast™.
Could the Braves shop Inciarte, sign Pollock for center field?
Nov. 9: The Braves already boast an elite defensive outfield with Glove Glove-winner Ender Inciarte and 19-year-old Ronald Acuna Jr., but it could get even better this offseason if the club pursues free agent A.J. Pollock.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman suggested Thursday in an article for Fancred Sports that Pollock could be a strong fit with the reigning American League East champs. Atlanta opted not to extend a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer to Nick Markakis last week, leaving an opening in right field.
The Braves will likely seek an outfielder who wields a more powerful bat before considering a reunion with Markakis. While not known purely for his pop, Pollock slugged a personal-best 21 home runs last season, and he owns a .467 career slugging percentage compared to Markakis' .424 mark.
The D-backs extended a qualifying offer to Pollock, but he's unlikely to accept, meaning he would cost the Braves a Draft pick to sign. Atlanta has also been linked to free-agent outfielder Michael Brantley, who may be a more attractive option after he didn't receive a qualifying offer from the Indians.
Another option for the Braves, which MLB.com's Mark Bowman mentioned Friday, would be to shop Inciarte for pitching. If Atlanta traded Inciarte, it could sign Pollock to roam center field, or move Acuna to center and ink Pollock or Brantley for one of the corner-outfield spots.