Oakland Athletics: Five Factors for a Successful 2016 Season

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2. Sonny Gray and Josh Reddick are here to stay:

May 30, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick (22) hits a RBI-single to score shortstop Marcus Semien (10, not pictured) against the New York Yankees during the third inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 30, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick (22) hits a RBI-single to score shortstop Marcus Semien (10, not pictured) against the New York Yankees during the third inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Oakland Athletics are indeed building for the future, they need to have their solid core of up-and-coming prospects surrounded by a series of experienced starters and sluggers.

The two perfect candidates to keep to help develop this team are none other than right fielder Josh Reddick and clear-cut ace Sonny Gray.

Josh Reddick, RF:

Reddick had the best season of his Major League career after being traded to the Athletics prior to the 2012 campaign. For the first time, the Savannah, Georgia native flourished as the green and gold’s everyday right-fielder with a .242/.305/.463 slash line in a 156 game span. Another statistic to remember was his 32 round-trippers and 85 RBI — 12 of those homers coming against left-handed pitching.

Since that 2012 season, the left-hander has drastically seen a decline in the strikeout category, which is partially due to an increase in plate discipline and pitch recognition. Instead of chasing the low-and-away off-speed stuff, the 28-year-old is tapping into his new-found hitting approach — which has proved dividend — by sitting back at the dish and taking the ball to the opposite field. Instead of being “homer happy” at all times, Reddick is simply focused on putting the ball in play and going from there.

Scouts have praised Reddick for his above-average range, arm strength and outstanding accuracy. His strong-suit is successfully reading the ball off of the bat and the wall — something many MLB players have difficulty doing. Reddick’s above-average speed is also a viable asset to have especially with the alternative routes he takes to get to the ball.

In his first season with the Athletics, the Georgia native recorded 310 putouts and 15 assists in 144 games. What’s more impressive was his .982 fielding percentage over the course of 1279 1/3 innings played. Also, he only committed six errors — en route to his first Gold Glove award in his Major League career.

If the A’s plan on contending in the near future, now is the time to sign Reddick to a contract extension. With a series of young studs knocking on the door, a four-year contract would be ideal and not out of the question with several contracts coming off the books in 2017.

Sonny Gray, SP:

Sep 25, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws to the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws to the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports /

The Athletics chose wisely when they drafted Gray in the first-round of the 2011 Major League draft. In fact, he only made two appearances out of the bullpen before settling into the starting rotation.

Despite his small frame, Gray has a bulldog mentality on the mound — one that which resembles the likes of former Oakland ace Tim Hudson. The Smyrna, Tennessee native isn’t arbitration eligible until 2017 and won’t become a free agent until after the 2020 season. Fortunately, Gray’s had three superb seasons thus far with a 33-20 record in 491 innings and an opponent batting average of .223.

Now is the time to lock up the 26-year-old in a multi-year contract. However, the front office might be hesitant to do so considering that he’s under team control for the next few seasons.

The A’s are going to have to make a decision with Gray and Reddick in the near future. Depending on how the ball club performs in the first-half of 2016, the A’s could ultimately conclude whether these two should remain in Oakland for the long haul or start packing their bags as the youth movement invades the confines of the Coliseum.

Next: Rebound with the Relief Corps

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