Arizona Diamondbacks Avoid Arbitration With CF A.J. Pollock

The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a two-year, $10.25 million deal with center fielder A.J. Pollock to avoid an arbitration hearing, according to Steve Gilbert of Fox Sports MLB insider Ken Rosenthal was the first to report that the deal was done, and Buster Onley of ESPN was first to report the financial terms of the contract.

Pollock, who was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, requested $3.9 million, and the D-backs offered $3.65 million for 2016 when salary figures were exchanged on January 15. When the difference between the two sides is only $0.25 million, a deal of some sort is usually worked out, and that is what occurred in this case. This new deal buys out Pollock’s first two years of arbitration, and the 28-year-old will still be under team control for one additional season after this new deal expires. He will be have one more year of arbitration heading into his age-30 season in 2018.

The Diamondbacks have made it clear all winter that signing Pollock to a multi-year contract was a priority for the franchise after upgrading their rotation, adding a little more offense, and upgrading the bullpen, and the Snakes were able to accomplish all of those things. This deal is very team friendly for a player coming off an All-Star season in which he established himself as one of the best all-around players in the majors. Pollock will receive $3.5 million in 2016 and $6.75 million in 2017, according to Rosenthal.

Pollock spoke to after the deal was signed.

“It’s an exciting time to be a Diamondback,” Pollock said. “I’m glad to get the business side taken care of and focus on helping this team win.”

At the plate in 2015, Pollock slashed .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBIs, and 39 stolen bases across 157 games, and his 192 hits in 673 plate apperances was second in the National League only to Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins. Pollock also finished seventh in Offensive WAR, third in runs scored, and seventh in batting average in MLB. Among position players in baseball, Pollock had the sixth-highest WAR at 7.4, per Baseball Reference.

Along with his elite performance offensively, Pollock also established himself as one of the best center fielders in the game, finishing eighth with a 6.5 UZR and ninth with a 6.5 UZR/150. This new deal certainly indicates that Arizona has no reason to believe that Pollock’s production will drop off, and it possibly opens the door for a longer-term deal in the future. The D-Backs spent a lot of major-league payroll in other areas to contend this season, so a long-term extension wasn’t feasible for the team this winter. However, now that Pollock’s contract situation has been resolved, the team finally has payroll certainty.

Fast forwarding to next offseason, only relievers Daniel Hudson and Brad Ziegler are scheduled to become free agents, and the team has a mutual option with Josh Collmenter. This means that general manager Dave Stewart and the rest of the front office should have plenty of flexibility to pay Pollock the money he deserves. Next offseason will determine how much the D-Backs truly value Pollock, their second-best player behind Paul Goldschmidt.

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