One week before Opening Day, the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers have made a huge trade. The former team traded closer Craig Kimbrel to the latter in exchange for outfielder AJ Pollock, the organizations confirmed. There is no money involved, according to Jeff Passan, so it’s a simple one-for-one transaction.
The Dodgers have traded AJ Pollock to the White Sox for Craig Kimbrel, per source.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) April 1, 2022
The Dodgers had more everyday position players than starting lineup places, but they needed a bullpen replacement for Kenley Jansen. The White Sox have a strong bullpen, but there is a hole in the right field. It’s a classic baseball deal involving two above-average major leaguers.
Craig Kimbrel’s hope after becoming a part of the White Sox
Kimbrel, now 33, was an All-Star with the Chicago Cubs last season, but he struggled with the White Sox after being acquired at the trade deadline, indicating that the White Sox will likely deal him this winter. He can return to the closer’s role with the Dodgers, allowing manager Dave Roberts to employ Blake Treinen as a fireman sooner in the game.
He told reporters, including Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times, after reporting to Dodgers camp Friday, “I don’t think I could be any happier. You come over to a team like this that already expects to win, and being asked to come in and just do my job feels really nice.” Kimbrel also expressed his desire to return to a more suited role in order to create positive results.
White Sox without right fielder
The deal also frees up a position for Gavin Lux, who had been relegated to the bench following the arrival of Freddie Freeman. Lux played some left field last season, and the Dodgers might use Chris Taylor in the outfield and Lux at second base. Although Michael Conforto is presently recovering from a shoulder injury, Los Angeles might go out and get him to replace Pollock.
The White Sox have been without a right fielder since 2020, though Adam Engel and Leury Garca did a good job filling in last year. Andrew Vaughn just suffered a hip injury and will likely miss Opening Day, putting him out of the equation, and newcomer Adam Haseley is more of a depth option than a starter.
ChiSox lineup figures:
SS Tim Anderson
CF Luis Robert
1B José Abreu
C Yasmani Grandal
LF Eloy Jiménez
3B Yoan Moncada
RF AJ Pollock
DH Gavin Sheets
2B Josh Harrison
During the abbreviated 2020 season, Pollock, 34, finished third in the National League with 16 home runs. Despite missing time due to injuries last season, he hit 21 home runs in 117 games. Injuries have been a problem at times, but the White Sox could occasionally insert Engel, Garca, or Vaughn into the lineup to give Pollock a break.
Despite Kimbrel’s absence, Chicago’s bullpen remains stacked. The ball will be passed to closer Liam Hendriks by free-agent newcomer Kendall Graveman and holdover Aaron Bummer. Garrett Crochet, the hard-throwing lefty who left Thursday’s game with the trainer, is “highly likely” to need Tommy John surgery. In 2022, he was projected to be a crucial member of manager Tony La Russa’s rescue squad.
Both Kimbrel and Pollock are in the final year of their guaranteed contracts, but Pollock does have a player option for 2023. This year, Kimbrel will receive $16 million. With a $5 million buyout of the $10 million player option, Pollock will earn $10 million this year, making the guaranteed money nearly a wash.
Both the Dodgers and the White Sox start their regular seasons on April 8 instead of April 7. The Dodgers will go to Colorado to face the Rockies. The White Sox will begin their season on the road against the Tigers.