Player Acquisition Cost: OF Josh Reddick
Much of the rumors surrounding the Chicago Cubs and the trade deadline have revolved around pitching. Left handed relief has been a hot topic as has the starting pitching which has fallen on its face of late. Lost in the struggles on the mound has been an offense that hasn’t been able to bail out the pitching’s failures.
The team has really missed Dexter Fowler leading off and his replacements Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward are not pulling their weight. The team has really stayed afloat offensively thanks to the team’s two star players Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. However, as was witnessed last season in the playoffs against the Mets, more offense is necessary if the Cubs hope to be World Series contenders.
Enter Josh Reddick. Like his teammate Rich Hill, the Oakland Athletics outfielder has generated plenty of buzz as one of the top bats available. And wouldn’t you know it he was also was drafted by Theo Epstein in 2006 in the 17th round. Epstein obviously saw something everything else didn’t and the left-handed batting eight-year veteran has become a solid player owning a career .255/.317/.435 slash line with 122 doubles, 23 triples, 92 home runs, 330 RBI and 37 stolen bases. Not bad numbers considering he’s played for much of his career at the Oakland Coliseum which has never been much of a hitter’s park. It’s probably why he’s hit 58 of his 92 home runs on the road.
In addition to his abilities at the plate, Reddick has always been a strong fielder and owns a career 11.8 rating in the outfield. With Reddick and Heyward in the corners, the Cubs could have one of the best defensive alignments in all of baseball.
Like any player, Reddick is not without his faults. Perhaps the biggest of those is that he’s shown to be injury prone. In 2013 and 2014 he missed almost 50 games each year with knee and wrist sprains. Just this season, he’s missed time with a strained oblique and a fractured thumb. The injuries this year explain why his power numbers have been down a little bit, as he’s currently batting .291/.372/.432 with eight doubles, a triple, six home runs, 21 RBI and four stolen bases. In addition to injuries, Reddick has also scuffled against lefties. He’s batted just .223 against them in his career and has hit a meager .163 against them this year. If added to the team, he would likely need a platoon partner.
So what would a return for Josh Reddick look like? You don’t have to look back too far to see some similar deals. The first is the deal last trade deadline that sent OF Yoenis Cespedes of the Detroit Tigers to the New York Mets for RHP Michael Fulmer and RHP Luis Cessa from the New York Mets. Cespedes is a more prolific power hitter than Reddick, but like him, Cespedes was arguably the best bat available for trade last season. Cubs’ fans saw first-hand how dangerous his bat could be in the playoffs against them.
The Mets paid a steep price for his services and gave up two top 10 pitching prospects. Fulmer was more likely a top five player thanks to an impressive arsenal on the mound which features a mid-90s fastball, good slider and a solid changeup. Fulmer has impressed this season in the Tigers rotation with a 2.11 ERA in 13 starts. Cessa profiles as more of back of the rotation pitcher, but still has shown nice stuff. He uses a fastball in the 93-95 mph range, a solid slurve and a changeup that will probably end up as average. He wasn’t with the Tigers long as he was flipped to the Yankees in a package to net them left-handed reliever Justin Wilson.
Another similar deal features Adam Lind who was dealt this off-season from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Carlos Herrera, RHP Freddy Peralta and RHP Daniel Missaki. Lind is a first baseman/designated hitter, but like Reddick can hit with power and also has trouble against left-handers. All three pitchers were just outside of the top 30 as prospects, but are young enough to outplay their ranking. Peralta is probably the best of the three with a 94 mph fastball and good mechanics. He’s shown a knack for striking out batters and not walking many. Herrera is probably next even though he’s fairly new to baseball. At just 19, Herrera has a projectable frame at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, whose 90 mph fastball could go higher as he grows as could his 73 mph curve. Missaki was felled by Tommy John surgery, but like the other two can miss bats and doesn’t get in trouble with walks.
The last deal to consider is another from last deadline that saw the Houston Astros use their highly ranked farm system to net them high talent. In a blockbuster move, the Astros netted OF Carlos Gomez, right-handed starter Mike Fiers and an international bonus slot from the Milwaukee Brewers for OF Domingo Santana and OF Brett Phillips, RHP Adrian Houser and LHP Josh Hader. This deal could be a nice framework for if the Cubs would decide to acquire both Hill and Reddick at the same time.
Both Gomez and Fiers came with additional control and aren’t exact matches in terms of talent to Reddick and Hill, but with the asking price large for starting pitching currently, it might take a deal of this magnitude to acquire them together.
Phillips was the best player obtained as he was considered one of the top 50 prospects in all of baseball at the time. A five-tool prospect, Phillips’ speed and arm are probably his best assets, but he’s shown 15 home run power in the minors. He will probably be the Brewers centerfielder of the future. Santana is no slouch as an outfield prospect either and was considered among the Astros top 10. Santana’s game is power as he smashed 20 or more taters twice in the minors. Injuries have slowed Santana lately, but will likely man right field in Milwaukee when he returns. Hader was a top 12 prospect and scouts think his delivery is very similar to Chris Sale. His velocity is strong at 96 mph, but his secondary pitches still need work. Houser was a top 25 prospect and features a mid-90s fastball and can generate grounders, but has almost no command.
With the exception of the Lind deal, the Cubs are likely going to have to give up something of major value to nab Josh Reddick from other clubs. Their biggest trade chip may one of their most intriguing players who has been missing in action on the disabled list, Jorge Soler. Soler generated a lot of trade interest this off-season and is probably a player that makes more sense with a rebuilding club who can be patient as he grows as a hitter. The 6-foot-4 right hander has elite level bat speed with plus-plus power. At times, he’s shown great plate discipline and a great arm in right, but hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough. At 24, he still has plenty of time to put it together and is controlled cheaply through 2020.
Other prospects who could be on the move for a deal for Reddick could be RHP Duane Underwood Jr., OF Billy McKinney, 3B Jeimer Candelario, RHP Oscar De La Cruz, RHP Pierce Johnson, OF Eddy Julio Martinez, OF Mark Zagunis, LHP Bryan Hudson, 1B Dan Vogelbach, RHP Jen-Ho Tseng and RHP Trevor Clifton.
A thumper like Josh Reddick who has hit 20 or more home runs twice in his career would be good protection between Rizzo and Bryant and would be a nice rental replacement for Kyle Schwarber who has been missed more than fans have realized. He’s not perfect, but he’s probably the best fit available which is probably why the team has been linked to him since back in April. With the team also looking at Hill, a deal which includes both would be quite a coup and announce to the rest of the baseball that the Cubs mean business.
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