It wasn’t a blockbuster per se but the latest Major League Baseball trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox was mutually beneficial. It won’t change the MLB picks today, at least it shouldn’t, but the futures and depth created for each is a big deal.
The White Sox got their corner outfielder to fill the last need by getting A.J. Pollock and sending veteran reliever Craig Kimbrel to the Dodgers. Each team will pay the player they acquired’s salary, making it a pretty even move.
Kimbrel, 33, had an All-Star campaign with the Cubs with a 0.49 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 36.2 innings pitched. But when he crossed over to the South Side, Kimbrel had a 5.09 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 23 innings.
After playing 117 games with the Dodgers last season, Pollock likely becomes the starting right fielder for the White Sox. The former All-Star hit .297 with 21 home runs and 69 RBIs. It also saves the White Sox money with free agent Michael Conforto still unsigned.
Chicago had to know that left-handed reliever Garrett Crochet could be facing Tommy John surgery when it made the deal. The report came out shortly after the trade Crochet, a promising reliever out of Tennessee, had 65 strikeouts in 54.1 innings pitched last season with a 2.82 ERA. He made five spring training appearances before the news was delivered by general manager Rick Hahn.
“The preliminary MRI reading is not great. There appears to be some damage to the ligament, which will very likely require Tommy John surgery,” Hahn said, adding Crochet will seek a second opinion.
Crochet is thought of as a rising star as a high-end reliever. The left-hander throws hard and could eventually move into the rotation. After being selected 11th overall in 2020, Crochet helped the White Sox make the playoffs in the COVID-19-abbreviated season.
But the silver lining if Crochet were to miss the season, the White Sox can hang their hats on their bullpen being the biggest strength a season ago. Though a big piece, Michael Kopech, likely moves to the rotation so it would take three arms away.
Dodgers Add to Back-End
Kimbrel has 372 saves in his career and the Dodgers will surely give him an opportunity after 12-year veteran Kenley Jansen left Los Angeles for the first time. He signed a one-year deal with the defending champion Atlanta Braves.
Kimbrel will have perhaps the best set-up man in the league in Blake Treinen with a nasty sinker-slider combination. What Kimbrel’s effectiveness is this season remains to be seen. He was dominant in the first half of last season before tapering off with a set-up role switch ahead of Liam Hendriks.
But what Kimbrel showed in the first half of the season as Cubs closer should be enough for the progressive Dodgers to like what they’re getting in return.
Forecasting Their Futures
Both teams are the favorites to win their division and have strong chances to win the pennant and meet in the World Series. The Dodgers have always had great depth in all areas thanks to a strong farm system and money.
Chicago has been building to this point for a while, both with free agent signings and hitting well on drafts, international signings, etc. While the Detroit Tigers are an upstart team and the Minnesota Twins added Carlos Correa among others, both seem a distant second and third to the White Sox because of pitching.
It would be fascinating if both Kimbrel pitches well and Pollock has a great year and the two teams meet in the Fall Classic.
The Latest Deal
News broke early Sunday that the San Diego Padres acquired veteran left-handed starter Sean Manaea from the Oakland Athletics for prospects Euribiel Angeles and Adrian Martinez, reports say. That will give the Dodgers some competition in the NL West.
San Diego now has strong, veteran starting pitching with former Cy Young winner Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger, Chris Paddack, Mackenzie Gore, Manaea, Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish. It’s a group that was expected to contend last year but finished 79-83 due to a multitude of injuries.
With Fernando Tatis Jr. out several months with a fractured wrist, the Padres will need to rely on their pitching depth to carry them through the first half of the season.
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