The early story of the Orioles offseason is that they are trying to find themselves an outfielder. Orioles GM Dan Duquette even said to MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli on Wednesday that he was seeking a left-handed outfielder, particularly.
Not much surprise, then, that a Thursday rumor comes along that the Orioles are “pursuing” lefty-batting outfielder Josh Reddick, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Worth noting that Morosi was also the person who passed along the only other interesting rumor to date, that the Orioles were interested in Ian Desmond.
As always with baseball rumors, keep in mind my motto that probably nothing will happen. Things that seem to make some sense are at least a bit more likely to happen, and the Orioles pursuing Reddick is something that makes sense. Reddick has been a right fielder for the bulk of his career and he appears to bring the desirable combination of non-horrible offense and non-horrible defense.
In its recent free agent contract predictions, MLB Trade Rumors speculated that Reddick would end up with a contract of three years and $36 million. If the Orioles are going to pursue one of the mid-tier free agent outfielders, that’s probably the price they’re going to end up having to pay. Since Reddick was traded mid-season, he was not eligible to receive a qualifying offer. Signing him would not cost a draft pick.
Over his MLB career, Reddick’s best year was his first full season, when he accumulated a bWAR of 5.0 thanks to hitting 32 home runs (with a poor .305 OBP, very Oriole-esque) and putting together strong defense. Reddick hasn’t shown that kind of power since then but he’s still been worth at least 2 WAR each of the last four seasons.
If you get a 2 WAR player for $12 million a year, you’re doing OK, though if the assumptions I’ve been making about next year’s payroll are accurate, that would end up being the only major expenditure the Orioles make all offseason. That’s a bit less exciting.
Presumably, most of the things that make him appealing to the Orioles will make him appealing to other teams as well. MLBTR guessed at least seven teams, including the O’s, would really think about Reddick. If six other teams get serious about Reddick, are the Orioles outbidding all of them? Seems unlikely.
As with every potential free agent, there are concerns if you care to look for them. Reddick has played more than 115 games in just two of the seasons in his career. Early in his career, his defensive skills rated well according to metrics like DRS and UZR, but more recently they have been split on him.
Reddick had a +6 DRS in right field but a -1.5 in UZR. Neither one is an exciting number, except when you consider what he’d be replacing out there. Mark Trumbo was a -9 in DRS for right field this past season and a -5.9 UZR.
You might also be worried about Reddick’s close to his season, when, after being traded to the Dodgers, he posted just a .258/.307/.335 batting line over his final 47 games. But even with that, his overall 2016 numbers look OK: .281/.345/.405. And he struck out in only 12.8% of his plate appearances. That’s half the rate of guys like Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez.
If you read Morosi’s tweet above, you were even treated to a fact that Reddick’s batting numbers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in his career are better than they have been at any other ballpark.
We must all hope that this sort of idiotic consideration is not something that would sway the Orioles, given that Reddick, if he signed with the Orioles, would no longer get to face Orioles pitchers in Baltimore. But it’s fair to hope that the short porch in right field might play a little better for him here than other stadiums, particularly Oakland’s, would.
Don’t stay up late tonight awaiting a Reddick signing. Even if this does happen - which it probably won’t - it is not going to happen soon.