Craig Kimbrel Traded to Dodgers from White Sox in Exchange for AJ Pollock

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 1, 2022

Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) throws against the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)
AP Photo/David Banks

The Chicago White Sox announced Friday that they traded relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel to the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder A.J. Pollock.

Kimbrel could potentially push Blake Treinen and Co. for the Dodgers' closer role after Kenley Jansen left L.A. for the Atlanta Braves in free agency.

Meanwhile, Pollock rounds out an already strong White Sox lineup, perhaps supplanting Leury Garcia as a starting outfielder.

Kimbrel, 33, has been among the best closers in baseball over the past decade, racking up 372 saves during his career. In addition to being Major League Baseball's active saves leader, he is ninth on the all-time list.

After breaking into the league with the Atlanta Braves in 2010 and remaining with the organization through 2014, Kimbrel went on to play for the San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and White Sox.

Kimbrel had 42 or more saves in four straight seasons from 2011-14 and then 31 or more in each of the next four campaigns.

The eight-time All-Star and one-time World Series champion took on a reduced role with the Cubs in 2019 and 2020, and he struggled mightily, but bounced back last season.

In 39 appearances for the Cubs in 2021, Kimbrel went 2-3 with a 0.49 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and 23 saves in 25 chances, earning him an All-Star selection.

Kimbrel was traded to the crosstown rival White Sox prior to the deadline and moved into a setup role behind Liam Hendriks. Kimbrel's performance suffered, as he went 2-2 with a 5.09 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and one save in three chances over 24 games.

While Kimbrel is not guaranteed to close in L.A., he has far greater experience in that role than any of the Dodgers' other relievers, which perhaps gives him a leg up on Treinen, Brusdar Graterol and Co. in replacing Jansen.

To acquire Kimbrel, the Dodgers dealt from a position of strength, as they still have an outfield headed by Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger.

The 34-year-old Pollock had spent the past three seasons with the Dodgers, winning a World Series in 2020.

Before joining the Dodgers, Pollock spent seven seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, notably earning his only All-Star nod and Gold Glove award in 2015 when he hit .315 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, 111 runs scored and 39 stolen bases.

Pollock never achieved that level of production again, but he is coming off a strong 2021 campaign that saw him hit .297 with 21 homers, 69 RBI, 53 runs and nine steals in just 117 games.

While Pollock was something of a platoon player in L.A., the career .281 hitter may see more consistent playing time in Chicago.

Pollock won't be asked to carry the load in a lineup highlighted by Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson and Luis Robert, but he is a tough out who adds a considerable amount of depth.