By all accounts, it appears the A’s have concluded their offseason activities as they prepare for the 2014 season. All roster tweaks have been done, and all arbitration cases have been resolved, except for just one. Josh Reddick, the man who shocked everyone with a stellar 2012 season in which he launched 32 home runs, and secured his first Gold Glove award in the process. But his 2013 season was a much different story. Reddick saw his power stroke vanish, and recurring wrist problems that stemmed from an ill advised dive in Houston early in the season cost him a number of games as well.
The A’s have been left with a bit of a dilemma with Reddick: which version of their right fielder is the real one? Many cite the aforementioned wrist injury as a reason Reddick’s 2013 was a disappointment. But his struggles date back to the second half of the 2012 season, which predates the injury, so that can only be a small contributing factor to his problems. As Reddick has become eligible for arbitration, he and the A’s have to come to an agreement as to which one is the true Josh Reddick, or else someone else will be tasked with making that decision.
The question that will be answered in 2014 is whether or not the A’s have faith in Josh Reddick to return to form, or if they think 2012 was a fluke and that someone else is their right fielder of the future. This offseason has offered glimpses into the mindset of the organization in regards to Reddick, as their reported “meaningful” interest in Nelson Cruz, their acquisition of Craig Gentry, and the divide that appears to exist between him and the organization as to his value in 2014. If the A’s truly had faith in Josh Reddick to regain his form, chances are the cost conscious team wouldn’t have been looking outside the organization for potential help, especially pricy help in the form of Nelson Cruz. It remains to be seen whether Cruz would actually be the upgrade the A’s were seeking, but their interest in him shows nevertheless that they aren’t 100% committed to Reddick.
Believe it or not, I think Josh Reddick is in for something of a rebound season in 2014. I think a combination of some really bad habits at the plate, and the wrist problems made 2013 a total loss. I don’t believe Reddick is the next Jack Cust, a simple flash in the pan disguised as a late bloomer. Despite my years of criticism, I think there’s more talent inside Josh Reddick than he showed in 2013. I don’t expect another 32 home run performance, perhaps ever, but I think a respectable season for Reddick is indeed possible (I can’t believe I’m saying that).
With the tremendous defensive ability Josh Reddick possesses, it behooves the A’s to see if they can get offensive value out of him. Placing a dollar amount on that value has proven difficult, but a resolution will come soon enough, and not everyone may like the result. Ultimately it’s up to Josh Reddick himself to prove he has more value to a MLB team than a cannon for an arm, otherwise he’s Jeff Francoeur, now of the Cleveland Indians on a minor league deal, and who will likely struggle to find a job year to year for the rest of his career.