The White Sox and Dodgers completed a fascinating trade Friday, with reliever Craig Kimbrel going from Chicago to Los Angeles in exchange for outfielder A.J. Pollock.
The teams announced the 1-for-1 swap. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the deal is straight up, with no money changing hands. Kimbrel is slated to earn $16 million this season, while Pollock is set to make $10 million in 2022.
Pollock also has a $10 million player option for 2023 that includes a $5 million buyout.
This trade obviously bolsters the Dodgers’ bullpen, which lost closer Kenley Jansen to the Atlanta Braves in free agency. Kimbrel likely will slide into the ninth-inning role vacated by Jansen.
The White Sox, meanwhile, add a proven veteran to a talented outfield that already included Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez. Pollock likely will slot into right field, with Robert and Jiménez patrolling center field and left field, respectively.
Kimbrel, an eight-time All-Star and one of the best closers in Major League Baseball history, is coming off a 2021 in which he started strong with the Chicago Cubs before faltering down the stretch with the White Sox following a midseason trade. Overall, the right-hander recorded 24 saves, posted a 2.26 ERA and struck out 15.1 batters per nine innings across 63 appearances (59 2/3 innings).
Kimbrel, who turns 34 in May, isn’t the dominant force he was during his first five MLB seasons with the Atlanta Braves or his excellent three-year run with the Boston Red Sox. But the White Sox still exercised his $16 million club option for 2022 this offseason knowing he’d likely garner trade interest.
Pollock, who turned 34 in December, spent seven seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks before signing with the Dodgers in January 2019. An All-Star in 2015, Pollock remains a solid contributor, slashing .297/.355/.536 with 21 home runs, 69 RBIs and nine stolen bases in 117 games (422 plate appearances) last season.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Friday the Dodgers had been shopping Pollock in recent weeks. It’s also worth wondering why Los Angeles didn’t re-sign Jansen — who inked a one-year, $16 million contract with the Braves — and either keep Pollock or trade him for a different asset.