Signing Implications: Pollock, Strickland, & Brach

Yesterday saw some fantasy applicable free agent signing occur which deserve a discussion.

A.J. Pollock signs with the Dodgers

I can’t quit Pollock, almost to a fault. I keep latching onto his 2015 season even though he hasn’t played over 113 games since then because of injuries. Now, he is going to a team notorious for limiting playing time thereby making his value is tough to unwrap.

He was productive during his stretch of limited playing time. Prorating his three-year stats down to 600 PA, he would have 88 Runs, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 23 SB and a .261 average. It’s tough to find a player with similar 2019 projection but here are a few. Ronald Acuna is at 28 HR, 24 SB, and .276 AVG. Braun at 25 HR, 13 SB, .265 AVG. Tim Anderson with 17 HR, 21 SB, .252 AVG. If playing a full season, he’s a top-50 hitter.

Now, how about the chances Pollock would make it a season without missing significant time. Here are the injuries he’s dealt with over the past three seasons

Fractured thumb (2016): Diving catch
Strained groin (2016 and 2017): Reaggravated injury, had while rehabbing thumb
Hand injury (2018): Missed a game
Fractured elbow (2018): Hit by throw sliding home

On the surface, he seems to be the recipient of some bad luck, but the groin may be a re-occurring issue. He should have been back in a month or two in 2016 from the fractured thumb but the groin kept him out. Additionally, he missed some time in 2014 with a groin injury. I don’t like to ding players for bad luck (e.g. Giancarlo Stanton) but the groin may be a chronic issue. I’m going to give him one more pass and hope he can make it an entire season.

As for the Dodgers depth chart, the outfield right now is Pollock in center, Cody Bellinger in right, and Joc Pederson in left. With Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig out of the picture, Alex Verdugo is the only other outfielder who could steal team (assuming the Dodgers don’t add a second baseman and Chris Taylor stays at second).

The key is if there is a potential outfield platoon situation.

Here are the projected platoon OPS splits for these four batters (values taken from The Process).

Name: OPS vs LHP, OPS vs RHP
Pollock: .804, .754
Bellinger: .750, .867
Verdugo: .649, .749
Pederson: .718, .867
Taylor: .752, .701

Unless Verdugo exceeds his projections by quite a bit, there is no reason for him to be in the outfield unless someone else is hurt. If the Dodgers move Taylor to the outfield, he should play against lefties with Pollock and Bellinger.

If healthy, Pollock should be playing every day. But can he stay healthy? Owners are going to have to set their own risk tolerance with this question. In the meantime, vote a few times in this poll to input your own expectations.

The Mariners sign Hunter Strickland

The Mariners bullpen is a mess and Strickland makes it even more jumbled. There are several arms who could get Saves and then be traded later in the season but for now, Strickland, Anthony Swarzak, Cory Gearrin, Shawn Armstrong, and three other arms Jerry Dipoto hasn’t traded for yet could all be the closer.

It’s tough to know for sure how it’ll shake out but the uncertainty may scare some away. Instead, I’m going attack the situation on draft day. When a situation is not set, I love to aim for the second or third option. These relievers are dirt cheap and can be churned off my roster if it becomes obvious someone else has the job. For me, the key is as many dart throws as possible.

The Cubs sign Brad Brach

With Brandon Morrow hurt (again), Brach may be in line for the closer’s role after saving 30 games for the Orioles over the past two seasons. But so could Pedro Strop or Carl Edwards Jr. or Steve Cishek or Brandon Kintzler. Ug.

With Morrow out, I feel it’s Strop’s job for now. None of these pitchers is lights out and their usage could change all the time.

Like with Strickland, I’m not investing many resources on Strop and probably Morrow unless they are effectively free. I may pick up Strop’s apparent backup and hope of a handful of Saves when/if Morrow returns.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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3 years ago

Pretty sure Pollacks fractured thumb was last year