SF Giants: LA Dodgers present potential opportunity to acquire outfield depth

PEORIA, ARIZONA - MARCH 09: AJ Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers follows through on a swing against the San Diego Padres during a spring training game at Peoria Stadium on March 09, 2020 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PEORIA, ARIZONA - MARCH 09: AJ Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers follows through on a swing against the San Diego Padres during a spring training game at Peoria Stadium on March 09, 2020 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

The LA Dodgers have a crowded outfield mix, but they might be able to find some relief with the help of the SF Giants.

As currently constructed, the Los Angeles Dodgers boast an outfield contingent of Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, A.J. Pollock, Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez, and Joc Pederson. The San Francisco Giants are years away from having outfield depth that resembles anything close to this.

Both Betts and Bellinger are well-known commodities as each has earned an MVP award in their careers.

Betts and Pederson are potentially poised to test free agency following the 2020 season. No one knows what landscape will look like, but the Dodgers are a smart team. They certainly did not acquire Betts as a one-year rental.

Regardless of how things play out, the former Boston Red Sox outfielder will look to score a contract well over $300 million. However, the Dodgers may let Pederson walk after attempting to trade him this past offseason.

The Dodgers’ competitive window is open now and for the foreseeable future. They have a stout farm system that continues to feed the major league roster. They have supplemented this by uncovering diamonds in the rough such as Max Muncy and Justin Turner.

Honestly, all of these compliments about the Dodgers are marking me feel sick. I should sit down.

If the Dodgers intend to retain Betts while stashing away funds to keep both Bellinger and Corey Seager on long-term deals, they may need to do some financial gymnastics.

This is where their division rivals, the Giants, come into play.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles was expected to surpass the CBT by a healthy $17 million margin. As their younger players continue to accrue more service time, so do their projected earnings.

This is a situation that may not resolve itself anytime soon. It bears mentioning that it is not the tax that hurts teams most. Owners have plenty of money.

When a team dips into the CBT, it limits their ability to sign free agents, especially ones who have rejected a qualifying offer.

Giants should target Dodgers OF A.J. Pollock for outfield depth

It should be noted that the Dodgers probably have plenty of smart guys running the numbers on this. That said, there is one player on the Dodgers roster who seems like an odd fit at this point — A.J. Pollock.

Pollock seems like a luxury that Los Angeles should try to unload to reduce some of the burden. The Dodgers signed the 32-year-old outfielder to a four year, $55 million contract after he rejected a qualifying offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2019 offseason.

The issue with Pollock has always been durability. He has played more than 100 games just four times in his eight-year career. When he is healthy, he is usually a quality contributor.

However, health is one of those things that does not improve over time. Just yesterday, I nearly threw out my back while I got up from my lawn chair to yell at the neighborhood’s youth for making too much noise. That is just the type of boomer that I am. You get my point.

The Dodgers may have some buyer beware one season after inking that contract. Pollock posted a respectable .266/.327/.468 (108 OPS+) line across 342 plate appearances, but he only appeared in 86 games as he battled injuries.

To his credit, the right-handed bat maintained his usually strong platoon advantage against southpaws as he generated a .906 in 108 plate appearances against left-handed hurlers.

Still, he is a luxury at this point.

There is a team not far from Los Angeles that could help them out — the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants’ payroll situation is improving. President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi is waiting for the remaining lucrative contracts to fall off of the books before diving too deep into the free-agent waters.

Giants did it once already with the Zack Cozart trade

San Francisco has already proven that it is willing to eat up an under-performing contract when they assumed the remainder of Zack Cozart’s three-year, $38 million pact. For this favor, the Los Angeles Angels sent over shortstop prospect Will Wilson in the transaction.

The Dodgers and Giants could match up for a similar transaction. Pollock is not going anywhere this season, but if the Dodgers are interested in cutting costs around the margins, then this might be one contract they would be happy to rid themselves of.

After 2020, the Dodgers outfielder will have two years and $31 million on his deal with a buyout for $5 million for the 2023 season.

If the Giants were to absorb the remainder of this contract, they would likely need at least two quality prospects for the favor.

The Dodgers are a smart team, so most of their top prospects would not be available in this type of transaction. However, mid-level prospects in a stout farm system still hold appeal to a team like the Giants as they continue to rebuild their pipeline.

Jacob Amaya and DJ Peters are a couple of prospects who could be packaged if the Dodgers were desperate to move Pollock’s contract. According to MLB.com, they are rated as the 12th and 13th best prospects in the system, respectively.

This is not necessarily a trade proposal, but if the Cozart trade can be used as a template, then we can use that idea for other proposals as well.

That said, the Giants are looking for creative ways to bolster their farm system. Zaidi’s lack of spending in free agency could prove to create some leverage with the Dodgers if Los Angeles decides that Pollock is too costly.

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The Giants could take advantage of the Dodgers’ strong farm system while the Dodgers receive salary relief that it may need to apply elsewhere in the near-term. It could be a win-win move for both rivals.