After Seattle made the playoffs for the first time in 21 seasons last year, the Mariners will look to further build on the progress made over the past few seasons. The Mariners have made a number of significant additions over the past few months, and that trend continued this past weekend. It might not be as big, but the M’s did grab former All-Star AJ Pollock to add to Seattle’s depth in the outfield.
A Look at Pollock
A former first-round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2009, AJ Pollock has been a reliable offensive threat throughout his 11-year MLB career. However, injuries have besieged the Connecticut native throughout most of his career.
Pollock has been relatively healthy over the past three seasons, and the former White Sox impressed in his last two seasons with the Dodgers. The 35-year-old cracked 16 home runs for the 2020 World Series champions, and followed that campaign up with 21 home runs and a .297/.355/.536 slash line in 2021.
Pollock did somewhat return back to earth last season with the White Sox in 2022. The former White Sox outfielder recorded well-above-average FB% and Barrel% rates with LA, and those numbers did come down last season. However, Pollock hit just .245/.292/.389 last season, and his OPS+ (91) marked a career worst in a full season. Batted ball metrics, though, do make an interesting case that Pollock did get a bit unlucky last season. An above-average pull hitter, it’s possible that the new Mariner could benefit from the shift change come 2023.
Seattle already possesses an impressive group of outfielders, led by the Mariners’ star in center field. Pollock may not be an earth-shattering move, but this should add some depth to a group that could use it.
What it Means
Seattle’s front office took this offseason to re-align its outfield core that already boasts reigning AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodríguez, after the loss of Mitch Haniger and a trying season for others. The M’s picked up power-hitting outfielder Teoscar Hernández via trade from the Blue Jays, a move that’s poised to add some punch to an already impressive Mariners lineup.
However, the departures of Kyle Lewis and Jesse Winker left some holes in the Seattle outfield. Seattle attempted to let Jarred Kelenic grab a regular role in recent years, but a poor start to his career was a curveball to those plans. Now, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the former top prospect finally becomes a regular in 2023. Kelenic has shown flashes in recent years, but not enough to establish himself as a regular. Thus, it makes sense for the playoff-ready M’s to pick up a veteran outfielder with experience.
Here’s how the M’s outfield looks at this point, heading into Spring Training:
Getting back to Pollock, the former White Sox did struggle in Chicago last season. However, Pollock’s proven to be an efficient hitter throughout most of his career when healthy. It’s wise not to expect the 133 OPS+ Pollock that showed up in 2020-21, but there were signs from last season that hint that the 35-year-old could still be a productive hitter for the Mariners next season.