There is a more than reasonable change that this will amount to little. After all, the Diamondbacks are not in the business of antagonizing players nor their fans.
While the team believes it is positioned to greatly improved over last season, there is little reason not to go forward as one, harmonious group. If the way management handled the recent signings of restricted free agents in the usual, quiet manner, there is still one restricted player out there in no-contract land. Numbers between the Diamondbacks and centerfielder A. J. Pollock are not far apart, but the way the parties come together could leave some resentment.
That’s not likely to happen, but could be used as a long-term negotiating tool. The Diamondbacks want to tie up Pollock in a long-term deal, but the fleet outfielder is cautious. After his All-Star and break-out season of a year ago, Pollock’s stock rose dramatically, and now he is in the same stratosphere as Paul Goldschmidt, his fellow All-Star and teammate.
Last Friday, the Diamondbacks announced they settled on one-year contracts for players in the restricted free-agent area. According to reports, pitcher Shelby Miller signed for $4.35 million, catcher Welington Castillo signed for $3.7 million, pitcher Daniel Hudson signed for $2.7 million, pitcher Patrick Corbin signed for $2.525 million, pitcher Rubby Del La Rosasigned for $2.35 million, and pitcher Randell Delgado signed for $1,275 million.
That leaves only Pollock unsigned, and the numbers appear close. According to reports, Pollock is asking $3.9 million for the coming season, and the Diamondbacks have offered $3.65. The Diamondbacks control Pollock for the next two years, and he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent beginning in the 2018 season.
Pollock, who turned 28 this past Dec. 5, earned $519,500 last season and is only eligible to negotiate as a restricted free agent. While his value long-term and in a multi-year deal could be anyone’s guess at this point, there is no question Pollock holds great worth to the team.
After hitting a career-best .315 a year ago, Pollock, a native of Hebron, Conn, finished fifth in the National League in batting average, second in runs scored, fourth in doubles, tied with Goldschmidt for second in hits, fifth in total bases, fourth in stolen bases, tied with the Reds’Joey Votto for most multi-hit games, and placed eighth in extra base hits.
With the departure of lead-off hitter Ender Inciarte in the offseason trade for Miller with the Braves, Pollock is slated to move up the lead-off slot. Adding power and the propensity of speed to his arsenal as principal catalysts for production, the Diamondbacks could have a tough road ahead in meeting Pollock’s long-term asking price.
It’s possible Pollock’s worth could be on the same plane as pitcher Ian Kennedy, his former teammate in Arizona. Coming off a 9-15 season in 2015 with San Diego and a 4.28 ERA, Kennedy recently signed a five-year deal with the Kansas City Royals for $70 million. With a two-year opt clause, the Royals hope to get at least 30 starts and 200 innings out of the former 21-game winner for Arizona (in 2011) in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Still, that’s fairly steep price to play for a 31-year old with a 75-68 lifetime record, and a 3.98 ERA for 206 career starts.
Pundits argue that Pollock’s worth to the Diamondbacks exceeds what a player like Kennedy could mean to the Royals. For that reason, Pollock will keep a close eye on his peers, and eventually make the kind of judgment which the Diamondbacks would or would not be willing to meet in the future.