Reddick’s thumb injury could cost him and the Athletics
It was the bottom of the seventh inning and the Oakland Athletics’ right fielder, Josh Reddick, was on first. Already facing part of the New York Yankees’ “three-headed monster” in the form of one of the league’s best relievers, Dellin Betances, Reddick knew he had the green light to go for second base. On Betances’ next pitch, Reddick went for it.
He successfully stole second, but it came at a cost — a big one for both the Gold Glove-winning right fielder and the team.
At first it appeared that the injury may have just been being kicked in the head by Yankees’ second baseman Starlin Castro, who did knock his helmet right off. However, it was the way that Reddick’s hand hit second base that was, and is going to be, the A’s (and Reddick’s) biggest problem.
Reddick fractured his thumb and is out at least four weeks, if not longer; the A’s outfielder is scheduled to see the team’s specialist on Friday to learn the actual extent of the damage.
This injury is not only a big blow to the A’s, but a to Reddick himself. He was having a career-year in his contract year, meaning regardless of whether the A’s traded him at the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline (which was highly likely), he would likely be a major outfield target in a weak overall free agent class.
The free agent market is going to be very thin after the season, and Reddick would have been (or perhaps, still might be), one of the year’s biggest commodities.
The only way Reddick could possibly retain his value – both via trade for the Athletics or via free agency – will be if the best-case scenario happens. At this point, the best-case scenario is if Reddick is back in just four weeks and picks up right where he left off.
In baseball, that is easier said than done. It isn’t simply a matter of coming back but taking rehab assignments in the minors and then upon returning to the big leagues, being able to swing the bat and play in the field against other big leaguers who haven’t had a four-week layoff.
For a big leaguer, four-to-six weeks off can be the kiss of death. Reddick was having the best season of his career – one most would call comparable to, if not better than, his “breakout” season in 2012.
Reddick hit 32 homers in that breakout season and while he is not on pace for that, now just five, he’s hitting better overall for average (.322) and has upped his number of walks (18 vs. 22 strikeouts) for a better OPB (.394). Reddick would have, prior to yesterday’s game, been more valuable than he would have after his 2012 season. That was also his first season in Oakland; he’s been hampered by injuries ever since.
Reddick plays hard. He injured his wrist making a catch in Houston two seasons ago that had bothered him until this season. Now with another injury to his left hand in a contract year, this injury doesn’t just hurt him or just the team – it’s a tragedy for both.
The A’s are currently in a position to fight for a wild card spot in the AL and, while it’s still early, they’re just four games behind the first-place Seattle Mariners. They overcame a much larger decficit in 2012, when they battled the Texas Rangers in game 162, ultimately defeating them and winning the AL West title for what would be the first of three straight playoff appearances.
The Athletics were predicted by most baseball experts to lose 100 games that season. Instead they won 94, the same number that they lost just last season. The A’s, despite a low budget, have been able to overcome a lot of challenges more often than not while under Billy Beane.
The loss of Josh Reddick for probably more than a month is a huge blow. He bats third in the lineup and with Danny Valencia and Khris Davis finally beginning to hit their stride, things were looking up for the A’s, who now have 12 players on the disabled list.
So, what are their options? There’s Jake Smolinksi, who is more than likely a career minor leaguer. There’s also a chance they bring up Matt Olson, whom many have assumed since he was moved from first base to almost exclusively right field, would be taking over for Reddick once the trade deadline arrived. But Olson, while he has major pop in his bat, has been hitting around the .200 mark in Triple-A this season even though he showed more promise in the spring.
Regardless of what the A’s do, losing Reddick for four-to-six weeks is detrimental to both the team and to Reddick himself. Even if they can still trade him at the deadline, he’s now lost value in the eyes of potential suitors. To his own detriment, the same may be true once the season ends and the free agent market opens.
One slide, and a bad break indeed for Reddick and the A’s.