Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: Will Josh Reddick Get an Extension?
Oakland Athletics’ Josh Reddick: Does He Merit An Extension?
The Oakland Athletics’ biggest everyday star is without question Josh Reddick. His glove is the best the A’s have, and he is among the three best right fielders in the American League. He was runner up for the Gold Glove in right field this year, behind winner Kole Calhoun and alongside J.D. Martinez. A Gold Glove winner in 2012, he also was a runner-up for the prize in 2013.
His bat is also the best the A’s have: he led the A’s in home runs (20), RBI (77), and slugging percent (.449), and hit .272/.333/.449 last year. He is entering his final season with the Oakland A’s, pending an extension. In Spring Training this year, Reddick has hit .500 while scoring three times and knocking in three runs. In short, he has been excellent for Oakland.
However, the question remains: will a Reddick extension be worth it for the Athletics?
The fans’ answer is, yes, absolutely. He is a face of the franchise. A’s fans will remember his first season in 2012 wearing the Green and Gold, when he was fresh off of a trade that sent Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to Boston. He netted the Gold Glove at the position that year. Of course, Reddick also smacked 32 homers that season, leading the A’s in that category as well as pretty much everything else: games, at bats, hits, runs, doubles, RBI, walks – even, on the negative side, strikeouts and hitting into double plays. You name it, Reddick was there. The A’s were off to a first-place finish and the American League Division Series. All was right in the world.
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But it came crashing down soon after, as A’s fans will never forget their two-year feud with the Tigers in the ALDS. For Reddick, a wrist injury wrecked his 2013 season, and a knee injury hampered his campaign in 2014, limiting him to 114 and 109 games in each season, respectively. His power was seemingly sapped in these two years, as he only hit 12 home runs in each year, and posted career lows in slugging and OPS. However, he did keep his strikeouts down, and actually improved on his OBP in those years. In 2012, his OBP scored a fairly low .305, but by 2014 it was .316.
Cut to this past year, and Reddick continues to trend upward. He’s just turned 29, which puts him on the right side of 30 in terms of growth as a baseball player. His OBP has blossomed to .333, and he has cut his strikeouts by nearly 60% since 2012: in 2012, he struck out 151 times, but in 2015, he struck out 65 times. Couple that with a walk rate that has stayed mostly the same: 55 free passes in 2012 and 49 in 2015. (Can you say “thank you,” Chili Davis and Darren Bush?)
Not to mention, A’s fans love his beard. They also love videos of great catches like this. And this. And this.
Now for the bad news.
The free agent market for the 2016-2017 off-season will likely include Yoenis Cespedes, who has an opt-out at the end of this year. This is supposed to be good for the A’s, given the upcoming off-season’s “wealth” of outfield options, because it means that outfielders won’t be at a premium, right? Well, exactly which outfielders will be available in free agency?
Let’s see: An antique Ichiro. An ancient Matt Holliday, recently converted to first base. Jay Bruce, he of the low-average, high strikeout ilk. An old Nick Swisher. Chris Coghlan. Jonny Gomes. Rajai Davis. Sam Fuld. (Rickey Henderson is probably in there somewhere.)
This means that Josh Reddick’s stock as a free agent has gotten a whole lot higher. It is tough to find a Gold-Glove outfielder in this upcoming free agent class that hits .270 and with 20 homers. Granted, upcoming free-agent right fielders Jose Bautista and Yoenis Cespedes do have some thumping bats, but they won’t be able to provide the defense that many franchises will need next year. He looks a lot like Alex Gordon did this year: he will give his team maximum effort, maximum defense, and will demand maximum dollars in free agency. He won’t get maximum dollars like Cespedes, but he might come close to Gordon’s deal.
Gordon’s contract, along with a World Series winner discount, takes him to four years and $72 million with Kansas City. Is Reddick worth that much? Definitely. His glove is comparable with Gordon’s, and he has more power potential. Reddick is also three years younger than Gordon, so he might be seeking a five- or six-year extension. Granted, he has been in the bigs a much shorter time than Gordon. Assuming Reddick could be happy with a little less than the $18 million per year on average that Gordon now makes, that could be closer to a contract worth $80-100 million.
Would the A’s be willing to shell that out? Probably not.
The biggest average annual value of contracts right now for the A’s is Billy Butler’s three-year, $30 million deal, followed by Coco Crisp’s $11.375 million for this year. But the front office might find a way to create a contract for less money and less years that still lets Reddick re-enter free agency in his prime.
In any case, this may be the last season that Reddick puts on an Oakland uniform. In the year ahead, he may provide some thrills along the way. Expect Reddick to provide 25 home runs and battle against Khris Davis to lead the A’s in offensive categories.
Next: Jarrod Parker Suffers Setback
Will Josh Reddick get the extension that he deserves? Will he even be in an Oakland uniform by the end of the year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!