The multiple trades that took place last offseason shook the foundation of the Oakland Athletics. Many fan favorites, theoretical cornerstones of the organization, and former All Stars were shipped out. One of those big trades was the one that sent closer Andrew Bailey to Boston in exchange for OF Josh Reddick, and minor leaguers 1B/3B Miles Head, and P Raul Alcantara. Originally this was thought to be a deal largely centered aroudn the prospects, and Reddick was something of a throw in to get the deal done. In Boston Reddick’s opportunities to shine were few and far between, and while he had performed well in 2011 in limited duty, he was regarded by some in the Red Sox realm as nothing more than a 4th outfielder.
Perhaps spurred by this diagnosis, or perhaps motivated by the trade itself, Josh Reddick cast aside all of those projections as he broke out in a big way in his first year in Oakland and his first as an everyday player. Something clicked with Reddick, he burst out with a team leading 32 home runs, and played Gold Glove caliber defense in primarily RF. On the basis of Reddick’s performance alone this deal was a highway robbery by Billy Beane of young Ben Cherington and the Red Sox, especially since Bailey missed most of the year with a thumb injury.
While Reddick did establish himself as a bonafide everyday outfielder, there were some serious holes in his game that were exposed over the course of a full MLB schedule. Reddick peaked fairly early on in the season by measure of his OPS, which sat around the high .800′s and even surpassed .900 once in late May. But after June and July it began to slip down into the lower .800′s as it appeared the league began to adjust to the new powerful Reddick. Unfortunately Josh never readjusted to the league, and his numbers suffered badly.
Many A’s fans will recall his horrific 0-30 slump that took place during the long and difficult roadtrip through Detroit, New York, and Texas in mid-September. That slump sent his numbers into a major nosedive, his OPS bottomed out at .762 before he finally got a hit. He would finish the season with a .768 OPS, and just didn’t seem to be coming to the plate with a good approach.
So now that Billy Beane has traded for Chris Young from the Diamondbacks, there appears to be a serious log jam in the outfield. Billy stated he had no plans to trade anyone from the 2012 outfield, but I think we all know better than to take Bille Beane at his word when it comes to trades. So the question I pose here is this, would Billy consider trading Reddick now, when his value is still high considering his power production and excellent defense and his controllability? It seems naive to think he wouldn’t.
I firmly believe that despite his flaws as a hitter, Josh Reddick is a very important leader for this team, whose value goes far beyond what he can do on the field. Unless Billy was absolutely blown away by an offer that would address weaknesses on the roster (namely 2nd base, and perhaps catcher), I would strongly advise against moving Reddick.
There has been zero indication that Reddick would be considered the odd man out of a crowded outfield in Oakland, but history has taught us to always expect the unexpected. While many of the fans, and certainly Reddick’s people in the RF bleachers have become very much attached to him, we all know Billy Beane does no such thing. I fully expect Josh Reddick to occupy right field for the A’s in 2013, but at the same time I wouldn’t be surprised to see him elsewhere come Opening Day.