Toronto Blue Jays Free Agent Target: Josh Reddick Makes Sense

 

Jays From the Couch looks at a potential option for the Toronto Blue Jays to fill an outfield spot. Josh Reddick would make a lot of sense.

 

 

 

So, the Toronto Blue Jays have some big decisions to make this offseason. While some of them may be “no brainers“, others will be a little tougher. Depending on what happens with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, the club could face even more difficult choices. Where do you find replacements that fit what the club needs? For example, manager, John Gibbons has said he wants to get more balance and speed in the lineup. He says a lefty bat would be nice. As well, Nick Ashbourne of Sportsnet suggests that replacing the potential loss of bats with better gloves might be a way of the Blue Jays improving their club without paying for big offensive production.

 

Enter Josh Reddick.

 

Now, several things have to fall into place before this discussion comes close to a thing that we can actually talk about. Firstly, the Blue Jays will make a qualifying offer to Bautista, he’ll reject it and become a free agent. Toronto can negotiate with him for a few days before he tests the open market for the first time in his career…at age 36. As well, Michael Saunders will have to officially leave to hit free agency. Should all of those things happen, the Blue Jays will be in a position of needing outfield help. That is, of course, unless they feel comfortable running Kevin Pillar, Melvin Upton Jr. and one of Ezequiel Carrera or Dalton Pompey out there everyday. Hey, stranger things have happened.

 

But, let’s suppose that the above projected outfield is not exactly what a championship team rests its hopes on. The Blue Jays will need to look for better. Free agency does offer a few options in the outfield. And, assuming the Blue Jays keep a similar payroll and don’t have to pay Bautista, they could look to fill the hole in the outfield this way. Trading will be difficult given the lack of talent closer to the big league level.

 

So, perhaps, they go calling on Josh Reddick. The first thing that might draw them to him is that he was traded mid-season from the Athletics to the Dodgers and won’t have a draft pick attached to him through the qualifying offer.

 

That certainly is incentive as the MLB/MLBPA CBA currently stands. The next thing that makes him desirable is that he bats from the left side of the plate. He owns a career average of .270 vs right handed pitching. Now, he has hit lefties to the tune of just .218 over that same span. But, in a right handed heavy lineup, you can either absorb that, or have him take the day off in favor of Upton Jr. Reddick’s overall numbers show a guy who has some pop- he hit double digit home runs in each of his last 5 seasons, including 32 in 2012 and 20 in 2015. Spending most of his career hitting in Oakland certainly has not helped the HR totals. But, moving to a hitter friendly AL East certainly would.

 

But, let’s say you don’t care about the home run and want a guy who can get on base and make contact. He has a .333 and .345 OBP in his last two seasons respectively. Since 2013, according to Fangraphs, Reddick has managed to decrease his K% from 19.5% to 8.9% last year. He swung at 29% of balls out of the zone (making contact at a rate of 78.1%). For comparison, free swinging Pillar swung at 37.1% (70% contact) and eagle eye Bautista swung at 20% (60.4% contact). In the zone, where Reddick saw 43.5% of his offerings, he made contact at a rate of 90.9%. His 6% swinging strike rate is better than Bautista’s 2016 mark of 7.2%.

 

But, it’s not all about hitting, is it? If the Blue Jays do want to land themselves a solid defender to fill right field, Reddick is their man. Last year, he was worth 6 DRS. Bautista’s mark of -8 was not enjoyable to watch. Now, in fairness to each player, they’d been dealing with injuries in 2016. Bautista had the bout of turf toe and Reddick not only got his hand caught in a hotel door ordering room service, but also fractured his thumb while stealing second earlier in the year. And a 2014 knee injury has seen his UZR/150 drop to -2.2 since then.

 

The benefit that Reddick has is that he will turn 30 in February. If the Blue Jays want to get younger, here is a chance to do so in a way that isn’t going as young as Pompey. He will bring a speedier presence that the club can use to its advantage. As well, Reddick could be enticed to sign- maybe- in Toronto with former A’s teammate, Josh Donaldson falling in love with the city and fanbase.

 

If the Blue Jays want to go shopping, and assuming other things fall into place, as stated above, perhaps they could capitalize on a somewhat down year for Reddick. His sort of pedestrian 2016 between 2 clubs could bring his asking price down, albeit not by much. He will be a pretty big target this winter. The Blue Jays should certainly be paying close attention as his market develops. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet says they are interested. Again, a lot of things play into the decision to even enter the free agency game, but this club will need to fill some gaps and Josh Reddick offers the ability to add the things they are looking for. He brings more speed, more defense, a lefty presence, oh and Careless Whisper. He just might be what this club is looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

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Shaun Doyle

Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.