Sadly mid-July has become, like clockwork, "selling season!" for the Oakland A’s. And while "Out with the old, in with the new" might be a dubious mission statement it appears to be the mindset of a front office willing to pass on even the most reasonable of negotiations. Like the 4 years and $50M-$52M we’re now hearing might be enough to extend Josh Reddick if only the A’s were willing.
There are reasons to be cautious around throwing too much of a commitment Reddick’s way, from UZR’s claim that his defense has declined to below average (a claim that does not match my eyes) to Reddick’s propensity to miss a portion of each season with a freak injury. Even in an excellent year at the plate Reddick’s slugging percentage this season currently stands at a somewhat pedestrian .429.
Acknowledging all of the above, I’m here today to tell you why I think the A’s front office is flat out foolish if they don’t jump at a chance to keep Reddick in the fold if all it takes is a 4 year, $50M-52M commitment — a figure that is noted, in the article, as considered to be "at least $5M-$10M under his market value".
- What the A’s have in front of them is the rare player who is actually putting his mouth where his money is, offering a hometown discount instead of just saying "I’m comfortable here" while seeking top dollar elsewhere. There is precious little precedent for this opportunity with good players in Oakland. Yoenis Cespedes made overtures but he would go on to command $25M/year and even at a discount he was going to be a significant strain on Oakland’s budget.
- Reddick is a legitimate team leader on a squad that is about to ask a bevy of young players to grow up and gel. While Danny Valencia is getting chewed out for his lack of hustle, Reddick is leading by example busting it down the line on one-hoppers to SS and turning routine DP balls into bang-bang plays at 1B. That’s what you want your young players growing up with — a guy who wants to be here so much he will take a bit less in order to stay and who will play at 100% effort no matter what the situation.
- As for Reddick’s productivity going forward, I think there is a good comp in A’s recent history and that is Mark Kotsay. Kotsay came to the A’s as a premier defensive CFer thanks to elite reads, jumps, and routes that offset a lack of elite speed. Like Reddick, Kotsay was also a very good hitter for average and OBP, with moderate slugging and above average speed, but offensively he was more "very good" than "great" overall.
As Kotsay aged into his 30s, sure his defense took a step back. But because his calling card was his reads, his routes, and his excellent fundamentals, he remained an asset in the OF. I have no reason to believe that Reddick’s defense is going to deteriorate over the next 4 years when he will still be blessed with the ability to read balls off the bat, and the excellent routes, that do not age like foot speed does.
We’re talking about Reddick’s age 30-33 seasons. I think the best bet is that he will be an asset in the outfield over those seasons in the same way Kotsay was. He may not be elite but he is also not seeking "elite OFer" money.
- You’re concerned about the wisdom of paying Reddick around $13M, in 2020, for his age 33 season? Don’t be. First of all, at the very worst you will be paying someone younger than Coco Crisp to play Crisp’s role as a veteran team leader with a lot to offer but declining skills. At best you will have a solid veteran player anchoring your lineup.
Also, Reddick’s trade value as a proven player making $13M in his age 33 season should be plenty high. You might not nab a terrific prospect for him in December, 2019 or July, 2020, but you will almost certainly be able to unload him and his full salary to a team in need of a LH batting COFer.
That would mean actually paying Reddick about 3 years/$39M or about 3.5 years/$46M, either of which is a great deal for the A’s and low risk. 30-32 isn’t old, folks, even by baseball standards. Not when your calling cards are good reads, hard contact, hustle and fundamentals, smarts and leadership, efficient routes and an ability to control the strike zone.
If the numbers bandied about in the Chronicle are accurate, I see an easy decision for the A’s. Yes, yes, yes. They should be jumping at the chance to actually keep a very good player in the long-term mix at a completely affordable price. Reddick is Mark Kotsay without chronic back problems. And he’s good and he’s an excellent role model for your rookies and he wants to stay and he is making himself affordable.
To everything - churn! churn! churn! There is a season - churn! churn! churn!
A time to be born, a time to die A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal A time to laugh, a time to weep
Could we maybe reap this time instead of weep?