If you're like me you aren't holding your breath over a Josh Reddick extension.
Not that I wouldn't be happy to see Reddick in Oakland again in 2017. I would, if the deal is for two years. I hope the Oakland A's don't throw 4 years and nearly $60 million out the window like that.
Assuming Reddick doesn't return, in 2017 if a ball is hit to right field Jake Smolinski will be there to field it about a third of the time. Smolinski has been a revelation this season, and one of the few bright spots during an underwhelming season. He's played centerfield occasionally, continued to master left handed pitching (1.135 OPS in 61 PAs), and has even held his own against righties. It would be foolish to expect much from Smolinski against righties next season, however.
So for the other two-thirds of the season, when a right handed pitcher is on the mound, who will roam right field? Reddick's production (159 wRC+ vs. RHP) will be difficult to replace, but let's find a platoon partner for Jake Smolinski.
The Dark Horses
Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Michael Saunders is having an exceptional season and has been one of the best hitters in one of the best lineups all season long. He's a dark horse simply because of how good he has been this year and in years past — he's likely going to be on the high-end of the A's price range. He's been plagued by injuries for a few years but has posted a 100 wRC+ or better in four of his last five seasons, including a 126 mark in 2014 for the Seattle mariners and a 141 mark this year. His overall numbers are dragged down by his early years, but in 2014 he posted a 136 wRC+ versus righties and this year it's 132.
Lonnie Chisenhall is someone I've thought makes sense for the A's for a while. However he's inexpensive and controlled by the Cleveland Indians for a couple more seasons so it would take more resources than the A's likely can afford. Former top-100 prospect? Check. Can play at least two positions? Check. Platoon split? You betcha. Once a top-25 prospect in all of baseball as a third baseman, Chisenhall has mostly disappointed. Decent on-base skills and modest power have led to a career wRC+ of 101. However he isn't the masher most folks in Cleveland wished he'd become. Still he can play third base and multiple outfield positions and has a career 105 wRC+ versus righties, including a 126 mark this season and a 122 mark in 2014.
Former-Athletic Seth Smith could be available next season. His contract runs out at the conclusion of 2016, but the Mariners have a $7 million team-option for 2017. One thing we know for a fact about Billy Beane and co. is that they like to reunite with former players. Smith isn't great defensively, but he is among baseball's best at hitting right-handed pitchers. This season he holds a 133 wRC+ versus righties and for his career that number is 123. If Smith becomes available this coming offseason I will not be surprised to hear that the A's are involved with him.
Former-Tampa Bay Ray and Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim Matt Joyce is enjoying a rebirth with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He posted a measly 62 wRC+ with the Angels in 2015 but so far this year he has been among baseball's best hitters thanks to his ability to hit righties. 147 of his 177 PAs this season have come versus righties and he's thrived to the tune of a 163 wRC+. Joyce is a free agent this coming offseason and likely wouldn't command a large contract due to his inability to lefties and shortcomings on defense.
Down on the farm Athletics prospect Matt Olson is slowly rediscovering some of the pop that helped earn him top-100 prospect honors in 2015 and 2016. He came up as a first baseman but has played nearly 80 games in right field compared to just 19 games at first base this year for triple-A Nashville. His .764 OPS isn'y exactly setting the world on fire, especially considering he calls the Pacific Coast League home. When he faces righties, though, he shows why he was one of the more feared hitters in the lower minor leagues. In 312 PAs versus righties this season Olson has 11 home runs and a triple-slash line of .251/.355/.471. He has two 100+ walk seasons under his belt and he has 53 already this season. He also has struck out 100 times already. Still, his K% has increased only a little at each stop in the minors and is only 25.8% this year — a manageable number.
He'll be 33-years old, has a long injury history, and won't cost much — Nolan Reimold sounds like and Oakland A already. Reimold found himself on a top-100 prospect list twice: in 2006 and 2009. He has big-time power but hasn't been able to find health or consistency in his 8 years with the Baltimore Orioles. In 912 career PAs versus righties Reimold has been slightly above average. This season he has been solid. His 115 wRC+ against right handed pitchers is pretty good considering he's costing the Orioles less than $2 million. He'll be cheap, he'll be available, and he has flaws so I wouldn't be too surprised if he finds himself to Oakland in 2017.