With the departure of Hunter Renfroe this offseason, the Brewers outfield is currently lacking some experience. Part of that is by design as the Brewers have a bunch of outfield prospects ready to earn playing time. But perhaps they still need a veteran outfielder to help bridge the gap.
One such veteran outfielder still on the free agent market is AJ Pollock.
Should the Brewers look to pursue veteran outfielder AJ Pollock as a free agent target?
Pollock, 35, is coming off a down season with the Chicago White Sox. He hit just .245/.292/.389 with a 91 OPS+ and 14 homers. Prior to that season, Pollock had posted five consecutive seasons with an OPS+ of 100 or higher.
He's provided a good mix of some power and hitting for a decent average over the years. Pollock is a career . 276/.332/.469 hitter with 140 long balls in his 11 big league seasons. He'll usually provide around 15-20 homers a season. His career high is 21 long balls in a season.
Pollock had two of the best seasons of his career in 2020 and 2021, and is just one year removed from putting up a .297 average with a .892 OPS and 134 OPS+.
For his career, Pollock hits lefties well which is something the Brewers have struggled with from the right side of the plate.
However, we can't totally blow off Pollock's struggles in 2022. Perhaps some of the struggles could be explained away by going to a new ballpark and unfamiliar league in the AL Central with the White Sox. But we can't rule out that Pollock is simply entering his decline years. He's entering his age 35 season and rebound seasons in the mid-30s don't happen very often.
Pollock could very well be the 2023 version of Andrew McCutchen; a once great hitter that the Brewers sign hoping to recapture their past success in their mid-30s and dominate against lefties. The McCutchen signing didn't exactly go as planned. The same could be said for Pollock if the Brewers decide to go this route.
There's risk here. There's a chance Pollock's struggles from 2022 will carry over. If they don't, and Pollock rebounds this season, then the Brewers will have made a good pickup that improved their club. If those struggles do continue, then the Brewers can move on to their young prospects in Joey Wiemer and Sal Frelick.
By pursuing someone like Pollock on a one year deal, the Brewers put themselves in a position where they aren't totally reliant on their prospects to finish developing at Triple-A and the big league level. They were in that position in the rotation last year relying on Ethan Small to play a big role and he wasn't able to do it. If Wiemer or Frelick struggle early on, they can continue rolling with a serviceable veteran in Pollock until they are ready.
The Brewers aren't likely to go any longer than one year for Pollock and coming of a down year, he likely won't get much in the way of multi-year offers anyway. He'd be a solid pickup for the Crew that should improve the floor for the outfield in 2023 although he likely won't raise the ceiling any.