Chicago White Sox make a huge Craig Kimbrel trade with LATodd Welteron April 1, 2022 at 7:14 pm

The Chicago White Sox traded closer Craig Kimbrel to the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for outfield A.J. Pollock. This is not an April Fool’s Day joke Chicago White Sox fans.

With one trade, Rick Hahn has turned around the frustrations fans were feeling about the Chicago White Sox’s less than thrilling offseason. He was able to shed Kimbrel’s one-year 16 million dollar salary for possibly two years of Pollock’s services at 10 million per season.

Pollock was limited to just 117 games last season due to nagging injuries. When he was in the lineup, however, he hit .297 with 21 home runs and posted 3.1 wins above replacement Pollock’s slash line in 2021 was .355/.536/.892. He has a career .819 OPS.

He posted an impressive 137 wRC+ last season per Fangraphs. Pollock has mostly played left and centerfield. He has played just six games in right field but we expect him to be in the mix for playing time in right.

The Kimbrel-for-Pollock deal is straight up. No money exchanged. Kimbrel will make $16 million this season and should slide into the closer’s role with the Dodgers. Pollock is making $10 million and has a $10 million player option that includes a $5 million buyout.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 1, 2022

The Chicago White Sox improved their roster going into 2022 on Friday.

Kimbrel was a disaster once he came to the Southside after being acquired at the trade deadline last season. The White Sox traded Codi Heuer and Nick Madrigal to the Chicago Cubs to get Kimbrel.

Kimbrel was a dominant closer on the Northside last season. He could never replicate that success for the Sox which is why they were always going to move him at some point.

He proved that he was a ninth-inning closer only and the White Sox already have a really good closer in Liam Hendriks. This trade allows the Chicago White Sox to get a proven veteran bat in the outfield and Kimbrel gets to go back to closing.

Kimbrel said to be thrilled. And why not? He goes to the best team to close. #dodgers

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 1, 2022

Trading away Kimbrel does thin out the bullpen as Garrett Crochet appears to be lost for the season. The Sox are not losing much with Kimbrel being traded. The Crochet injury has a much bigger impact.

Kimbrel struggled in high leverage situations outside of the ninth inning. Crochet was supposed to be this season’s Michael Kopech in the bullpen while the Sox were hoping Kimbrel’s trade value could be recaptured. Turns out he still had enough value in the Dodgers’ eyes.

The most games Pollock played in a season were 157 games in 2015. He was an All-Star and Gold Glover winner that season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has three seasons where he played less than 100 games as he has struggled with injuries in his career.

When Pollock is healthy, he is a true professional hitter. He hit .288 against left-handers last season and has a career .285 batting average against southpaws. He was very good against right-handed pitching last season with a .301 average. He has a good stat card per MLBStatCards.

Plus, the Chicago White Sox outfield depth does not require him to play a boatload of games. He can start in left on days Eloy Jimenez is at designated hitter. He can man centerfield if Luis Robert needs a day off.

Despite not playing a lot of rightfield, he can slot into that mix as well. Plus, he provides a certified bat to the rightfield rotation. That probably makes him the starter in right. The White Sox were prepared to go into the season with high potential but unproven hitters in Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Sheets, and Adam Haseley.

If he does end up on the injured list at some point, the White Sox still have Adam Engel and Leury Garcia to provide help in the outfield. Also, this move allows one of the White Sox’ top prospects, Yoelqui Cespedes to get more at-bats at Triple-A or Double-A ball.

Pollock has so much defensive versatile that he is more valuable to the Sox than Kimbrel. It looked like the Chicago White Sox were going to be stuck with Kimbrel and his 16 million salary eating into the payroll but not anymore.

Instead, the Sox now have a solid hitter in the outfield to go along with Jimenez and Robert’s high-powered bats. That is a winning trade that hopefully leads to winning a World Series.

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