A.J. Pollock will help the Dodgers win a few more games next season, but signing him wasn’t worth giving up the chance to acquire Bryce Harper.
In a vacuum, the Dodgers decision to sign A.J. Pollock to a moderately priced free agency deal is really good business. Unfortunately, the move also took Los Angeles out of the race to bring in Bryce Harper. That was a poor decision for a franchise with deep pockets and legitimate World Series aspirations.
The price for Pollock is pretty good. Paying $50 million for four years of his services should turn out to be a good deal for the Dodgers. There are legitimate durability concerns about the former Diamondbacks center fielder, but he’ll only be 34-years-old when the contract ends. Los Angeles did well not to pay Pollock into his late-30s.
Harper obviously is going to cost whatever team signs him a lot more money. The 26-year-old slugger is one of the most talented players in the game. It’s widely believed that he’s looking for a contract in the neighborhood of 10-years, $300 million. That could easily become an albatross at the end of its duration, but it’s still a gamble the Dodgers should have taken.
After all, Los Angeles is a city that falls in love with superstars. Pollock might find a way to scratch out an All-Star appearance or two, but he’s not going to be a transcendent talent. Harper, on the other hand, is a solid bet to contend for several MVPs over the life of his next contract. He’s just the sort of player that can help the Dodgers win games in October and produce profits all year-long.
Ultimately, the Dodgers front office lost the game of free agency chicken. Instead of hanging in the Harper chase until the end, they jumped off the carousel and took the sure thing with Pollock. It’s a decision the franchise is likely going to regret for years to come.
Dodgers fans shouldn’t look to Philadelphia or Washington for sympathy. Their team’s decision to exit the race for Harper leaves the Phillies and Nationals by themselves in the potential bidding war for the superstar outfielder. Neither franchise is going to secure him on a bargain contract, but Harper will still prove to be a marquee signing that can electrify either fan base.
In the end, the Dodgers may win a lot of games this season, but they missed a golden opportunity to become the National League favorites when they chose to give up the chance to sign Harper. It was a small market move by one of the richest teams in MLB.