Outfielder Alex Gordon will return to the Kansas City Royals for $72 million over four years, and he will obtain 10-and-5 no trade rights in the middle of that second year. Alex Gordon is an excellent defender and pretty good hitter, so might you say that Gordon, turning 32 next February, is just an older Josh Reddick? In other words, does Reddick have the potential to earn a contract of that magnitude if he's allowed to reach free agency next offseason?
The answer to that is most decidedly "No." First, Reddick has been a good hitter at times and is recently enjoying a plate discipline resurgence, but Gordon has been very good over most of his career. Second, question marks remain about whether the toll of injuries over Reddick's career has led to a severe falloff in his defensive abilities while Gordon remains a good fielder even now.
Alex Gordon outhits Josh Reddick
If you go by wRC+ (park- and league-adjusted weighted runs created with 100 the average player, more than 100 is good), Gordon has a career wRC+ of 113 against Reddick's 105. For context, those wRC+ numbers among last year's 141 qualified batters would have placed Gordon in the top 65 and Reddick in the top 85.
If we limit our discussion to the last five seasons, the five seasons when Reddick has been in the league regularly, you'll notice two things:
|Statistics from FanGraphs, 2011-2015|
It's now a 14 point difference in wRC+, and Reddick's injury-prone 2013 and 2014 limited the number of games he was able to play.
Alex Gordon is at least as good a fielder as Josh Reddick
We can go by awards (Gordon's four Gold Gloves to Reddick's one), by old-fashioned statistics (Gordon's three seasons of 15+ outfield assists to Reddick's one), or by advanced metrics and they'll tell similar stories: Alex Gordon is at least as good, if not better than Reddick.
The most significant drop in the advanced measures for Reddick has been in his range ratings, which you'd expect to fall if an injury or simple age was slowing Reddick down:
|Josh Reddick||Defensive Runs Saved||Ultimate Zone Rating|
Alex Gordon was hampered by a groin injury sustained on a difficult play, which might have factored into him only getting a four year deal instead of five years:
|Alex Gordon||Defensive Runs Saved||Ultimate Zone Rating|
Gordon remains a high caliber defender by any measure, while the jury is out on Reddick.
Putting Josh Reddick's value in Alex Gordon's context
The four years and $72 million Alex Gordon will get is a guaranteed year short of the five year, $90 million deal Hunter Pence signed in 2014 heading into his age 30 season. Even if Reddick has an amazing year, there will be enough questions about why he hadn't done so before now that he won't get a deal on that scale.
For now, I'm sticking with my original guess for what Reddick would get if he was given an extension right now: four of his free agent years (through 2020) and $50 million. I think whatever Austin Jackson gets this offseason will be a better comp than Gordon for Reddick on what Reddick might earn next offseason.