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.
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."
Pollock one of six players to reject qualifying offer
Nov. 12: A.J. Pollock has rejected the one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer he received from the D-backs, making him one of six to decline the offer. The Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu was the only player to accept it.
While Bryce Harper, Craig Kimbrel, Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel and Yasmani Grandal were considered virtual locks to reject the offer, there was some speculation that Pollock could consider accepting it.
Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, new teams need to surrender one or more Draft picks to sign a player who rejected the qualifying offer. As a revenue-sharing recipient, the D-backs will be awarded a pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A of the 2019 MLB Draft if Pollock signs elsewhere for at least $50 million. If he signs for less than that, the D-backs' compensation pick will come after Competitive Balance Round B, which follows the second round.
The fact that teams will need to forfeit one or more Draft picks to sign Pollock puts 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 likely factored into Pollock's decision to reject the offer.
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 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.
Will Pollock get a multi-year deal if he declines the QO?
Nov. 6: FanGraphs' ranking of the Top 50 free agents this winter has Pollock at No. 7 and projects him to score a multi-year pact for either three or four years at roughly $16 million to $18 million per. That's a nice potential payday for a player who has across-the-board tools but has reached the 500-plate appearance threshold only once due to numerous injury issues.
In fact, MLB Network analyst Jim Duquette suggested recently that Pollock might be better off with the guaranteed money the qualifying offer presents.
"Usually guys who play that little don't get big deals in the winter time," Duquette said Monday on MLB Network Radio regarding Pollock, who has played just 237 games over the past three years combined. "If he wants to get the big deal, take one more year in Arizona. Take that qualifying offer. Stay healthy for one season and then go back out [on the free-agent market] at age 31."
Accepting the qualifying offer not only would provide the outfielder with excellent compensation for 2019, but would also allow him to avoid the risks of hitting the open market after rejecting said offer, forcing teams other than Arizona to forfeit one or more Draft picks to sign him.
That said, the center-field market is thin beyond Pollock, and The Athletic's Jim Bowden doesn't think the outfielder will lose much in average annual value if he signs a multi-year deal. Rather, Bowden projects Pollock to make $45 million over three years, naming the Phillies, Mets, D-backs, Indians, Mariners and Giants among the best fits for the veteran, whom he ranks 11th overall on his list of the Top 35 free agents (subscription required).
Pollock to the Big Apple?
Nov. 4: Newsday's Tim Healey identified three major areas of need for the Mets as new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen heads to the General Managers Meetings in California, one of which is center field. Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto are New York's current options in center, but with Van Wagenen saying recently that the club needs to get better defensively up the middle, it may look to upgrade there and move those sluggers to the corner outfield positions. Healey suggests Pollock could be the answer, both defensively and offensively.
Pollock, who was extended a qualifying offer by the D-backs and therefore comes with Draft pick compensation attached to his free agency, got off to a strong start last season before getting hurt. Through May 14, he was hitting .293/.349/.620 with 11 homers and nine steals in 40 games. But that's when he fractured his thumb trying to make a diving play in center, missing more than a month. After returning, he slashed .236/.297/.407 with 10 homers over his final 73 games.
Nevertheless, Pollock turns 31 in December and could give the Mets what they need in center if he returns to form at the plate.
MLBTR projects Pollock to earn $60 million contract
Nov. 3: Pollock might not net a contract in the neighborhood of Bryce Harper, but the veteran center fielder should do nicely, according to projections from MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes.
Dierkes predicts Pollock will receive a four year offer for $60 million, which was the eighth-richest contract of the 50 he projected. He also predicted that the Giants would be the club to make that offer.
San Francisco would seem to be a strong fit for Pollock, who has -- when healthy -- excelled in the National League West. The former D-backs' first-round Draft pick is a career .274/.331/.565 within the division and has thrived against some of its best pitchers.
The Giants are in need of outfielders after losing Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Pence from 2018. Their current contingent consists of three rookies: Steven Duggar is slated to play center, with Chris Shaw in left and Austin Slater in right. The club is also still seeking a replacement for general manager Bobby Evans, so that void will likely need to be filled before any significant free-agent signings take place.
Durability will always be a question mark for Pollock -- he's suffered a broken hand, an elbow fracture, a groin strain and a thumb fracture -- so he likely won't earn a deal in the range of Lorenzo Cain (five years, $80 million with the Brewers) and Dexter Fowler (five years, $82.5 million with the Cardinals), per Dierkes' projections. But he's arguably the best center-field option in this year's class. The other free agents at the position include Adam Jones, Rajai Davis, Eric Young Jr. and Austin Jackson.
Video: A.J. Pollock to miss 4-8 weeks with thumb fracture