You just knew Andrew Friedman had one final trick up his sleeve for the Los Angeles Dodgers before Opening Day, and he proved that by importing Craig Kimbrel via a trade with the Chicago White Sox. It was a straight-up swap for outfielder AJ Pollock.
Pollock was set to earn $13 million in 2022 (with a $10 million player option or $5 million buyout for 2023) for the Dodgers, and they’ve essentially saved $2 million by taking on Kimbrel’s $16 million in the final year of his contract.
Now, Kimbrel will become the Dodgers’ closer following Kenley Jansen’s departure and Pollock will take over in right field, providing the White Sox with another threatening bat in a lineup that’s already full of them.
But there are a few things to ponder here. Though Chicago’s initial trade for Kimbrel with the Cubs last year proved to be a dud, they seemed to have made the proper swap/upgrade this time around. Pollock is among the league’s better hitters when healthy and the White Sox added both Kendall Graveman and Joe Kelly to make up for Kimbrel’s loss.
Though this seems great for the Dodgers on paper, we have a few questions that might make fans re-think their motive here.
3 question to ponder following Dodgers-White Sox Craig Kimbrel-AJ Pollock trade
3. How Will Craig Kimbrel Fare After Rough Stretch With White Sox?
Kimbrel is without a doubt one of the best closers in baseball history … but his 2019 and 2020 seasons as well as his second half of 2021 were disastrous. Mixed in was a near-flawless 39-game stint during the first half of last season with the Cubs, which featured an 0.49 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 23 saves and 64 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.
In those other 59 innings, though? A 5.64 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. All we’re trying to say is that it hasn’t really been great ever since his 2018 World Series run with the Boston Red Sox, who were quick to jettison him that offseason as the warning signs continued to pop up throughout the playoffs that October.
And if we’re being honest, Kimbrel serving as a closer for a non-contender in the Cubs, especially during their last few years of colossal disappointment, doesn’t exactly instill the utmost confidence with regard to him handling a tremendous spotlight in LA, where the fans just spent years grilling the greatest closer in franchise history for blowing any game.
How Kimbrel rebounds from his humbling second-half experience with the White Sox will be crucial to him finding success with the Dodgers.