By Jason Wojciechowski on January 19, 2014 at 7:46 PM
Playing as I start this: Tag Alexander f/ Ty Farris, "The Muscle"
Josh Reddick is the last, as of this writing, remaining arbitration-eligible A's player without a contract for 2014. Jeff Passan reported the player's and team's submissions on Twitter:
Josh Reddick asks for $3.25M from the A's. Team offers $2M.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 18, 2014
In percentage terms, that's a sizable gap -- Reddick wants 56 percent more than the team wants to pay him. But in real dollars, even in Oakland, $1.25 million gap isn't going to be worth going to an actual hearing on. The question is whether you risk setting a precedent or creating a perception of being soft in negotiations by going much over the midpoint. The team would presumably be incredibly happy to pay him even the $3.25 million he's asking for -- even in a horrific year with the bat, even missing 40 days on the disabled list, when you consider the mix of parks Reddick had to hit in and, more importantly, his stellar defense, he was still something like an average or above-average player. If they A's had to find someone on the market to replace Reddick, they'd have to pay a lot more than $3.25 million.
There's reason to hope that Reddick can bounce back in 2014 with the bat. He sprained his wrist on April 8th, which, in case you've forgotten how baseball works, is basically the beginning of the year. He hit the DL for the second time with the injury on August 26th before finally having surgery on October 30th. Add that up: Reddick dealt with the wrist for all but one week of the 2013 season.
I had a wrist injury one time. I was in middle school, playing basketball at lunchtime. Someone scored a basket on me, doing something to me in the meanwhile that I don't recall. He offended me. I chucked the ball at his back as he jogged back up the court. It hit him and ricocheted toward the sideline. I ran over to grab the ball, realized after touching the ball that I was too close to the line, jumped to try to save it to a teammate, and got shoved by the person I'd chucked the ball at. All fine. The problem is that I put my hand behind me in a misguided attempt to break my fall and jammed my left wrist in the process. Unfortunately, this was also baseball season -- I couldn't squeeze my glove or swing a bat effectively for a while because of the pain and stiffness. I didn't have surgery or anything like that on the wrist -- it got better on its own -- but the point is that for that period after the injury, I was totally useless on the baseball field.
Which is partially to say: Josh Reddick hit 12 homers and overall played decent baseball with a completely jacked-up wrist that required surgery at the end of the season. In the major leagues. Against the best pitchers to ever walk this earth.
But it's more relevantly to say: Assuming the surgery and concomitant rehabilitation actually fixed the problem, it's reasonable to expect a return for Reddick's power in 2014. His approach at the plate was essentially unchanged from 2013 to 2014 and, while lefties threw him more fastballs in fastball counts in 2013, righties threw him fewer, and the bumps could easily be blips.
There would be good reason to platoon Reddick in 2014, but the personnel on hand may not support it. Last year, with Seth Smith at DH, Bob Melvin preferred letting Chris Young bat against lefty pitchers to losing Reddick's glove (even though Young is quite a capable defender himself). This year, he'll presumably face the same type of question, but with John Jaso at DH instead of Seth Smith. You could also leave Brandon Moss at first base full time and let Nate Freiman platoon with John Jaso rather than Moss. There's not much reason to prefer Reddick over Moss, hitting-wise, but there's substantial reason to prefer both to Jaso against lefties. So if you've got Nate Freiman and Craig Gentry set up to play, this year anyway, only against lefties, you definitely sit Jaso and then as between Reddick and Moss, you make the choice on defense, which means Moss hits the bench. In other words, you do exactly the thing you did last year. But at least we worked that out!
Note, by the way, that if Nate Freiman is optioned out in favor of an out-of-options outfielder like Corey Brown or Michael Taylor or maybe Daric Barton, some of the above analysis changes, but I don't even want to think about it, largely because Nate Freiman has a year of lefty-mashing under his belt already, while the others ... well.
Playing as I finish: Thaione Davis, "Conflict Resolution"