AJ Pollock

Why Giants traded for struggling outfielder Pollock

NBC Universal, Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Whenever a roster hole has opened up this season, the Giants have tried something that wasn't available to them in recent years. They have filled just about every need by calling up a highly touted prospect. 

But with Mike Yastrzemski out at least a couple of weeks with a left hamstring strain, they're turning to a more experienced option.

The Giants on Monday completed a trade with old friend Jerry Dipoto and the Seattle Mariners, acquiring 35-year-old outfielder A.J. Pollock and utility man Mark Mathias in exchange for cash considerations or a Player To Be Named Later, with the Giants also receiving cash to help pay down some of Pollock's remaining contract. Mathias was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, but Pollock should soon be in the big league lineup. 

Essentially, the first Giants trade of deadline week boils down to this: They need an outfielder, particularly one who bats right-handed so that he can platoon with Blake Sabol and Joc Pederson in left, and they're betting on Pollock's track record and underlying metrics over what they have in Triple-A, where Heliot Ramos would be the top option. 

Pollock had a .547 OPS in Seattle and is way down at .378 against lefties, but he was close to a league-average hitter last season, and he's just a year removed from a .935 OPS against left-handed pitching. Gabe Kapler referred to him as a "pro's pro" and said the Giants think "there's more in the tank for A.J." Farhan Zaidi said he anticipates Pollock being a good fit. 

"Obviously he hasn't had a great season in Seattle," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. "We kind of look at some of the underlying measures of plate discipline, how he's moving around the field, his sprint speeds are good, and we just view him as a really good change-of-scenery candidate. He's got a lot of relationships with people here, guys that he's played with before, and I know that all those guys are really excited to have him because he's just a great presence in the clubhouse.

"It fills a short-term need in the outfield with Yaz going down, but even as we get guys back I think there's a role for him to be part of our outfield rotation and help."

The Giants pursued Pollock in the offseason but ended up with Mitch Haniger. However, the outfield is currently without Haniger and Yastrzemski, who strained his left hamstring for a third time on Sunday. The Giants had checked in on Pollock before Yastrzemski's injury and there was virtually no cost in adding him Monday. 

Ironically, Pollock also currently is on the IL because of a hamstring strain, but he took BP in Seattle before the move and will go through a workout on Tuesday at Oracle Park. He could be active as soon as Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks. 

Pollock's overall numbers have been way down, but his average exit velocity, walk rate and strikeout rate are all in line with last season, when he was far more productive for the Chicago White Sox. Even at 35, he remains in the 89th percentile in sprint speed, something both Kapler and Zaidi cited. 

If Pollock can't turn it around, the Giants won't have much of an investment and can turn that spot over to Yastrzemski or Haniger in a few weeks, or someone else. For now, they're hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with a player who was an above-average hitter and versatile outfielder for most of his career with the division-rival Dodgers and Diamondbacks. 

"We think he has a lot in the tank," Zaidi said.

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast

Contact Us