The St. Louis Cardinals can take a few paths this offseason to improve their outfield defense. They can acquire a center fielder who is a defensive upgrade over Randal Grichuk, or they can explore corner outfielders.
The St. Louis Cardinals may be linked to free agent outfielders like Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gomez, Ian Desmond, and Yoenis Cespedes, but former Mets general manager and current baseball analyst Jim Duquette predicts a different name to go to the Cardinals: Josh Reddick.
Duquette recently published his predictions for the top 20 free agents. He named right fielder Josh Reddick as someone who is drawing interest from the Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals. He ultimately predicts that the Redbirds land Reddick.
“Reddick will have plenty of teams knocking on his door, because he has no qualifying offer attached to him after being traded to the Dodgers in July and because he is productive when healthy,” Duquette states his piece for MLB.com. “He’ll get four years at more than $12 million per season.”
Duquette later expanded on his thoughts during an appearance on “The Writers’ Block” show on KFNS on Tuesday.
“He would be a great target, I think,” Duquette said of Reddick. “Grichuk in center, it’s not perfect. But it’s OK there. If you are going to do that, you have to flank (Grichuk) with some pretty good defenders on either side. Reddick is a pretty darn good defender on the corners. I think he’s better in right than left, but he can get after it in left field with the best of them. You can get by with average center field defense in that sense.”
So should the St. Louis Cardinals sign Josh Reddick? Reddick had an inconsistent campaign while with the Los Angeles Dodgers after they acquired him from the Oakland Athletics at the non-waiver trade deadline last season. He was intended to make Yasiel Puig expendable but that didn’t quite go as planned.
The Dodgers placed Reddick in right field and batted him cleanup. Unfortunately, he went hitless in his first 15 at-bats and had a dreadful month of August where he recorded an average of .161 with only one RBI and one extra base hit. Ultimately, the Dodgers were forced to use him as a platoon partner with Puig and batted him lower in the order.
“I wanted to succeed so bad, I started pressing in the middle of August, and that really took a toll,” Reddick told the Los Angeles Times after he got out of his slump. In September, Reddick’s bat woke up. He hit for a .382 average with a .544 slugging percentage in the final month of the season. He also racked up five doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs.
His confidence and production carried through to the postseason and proved that it truly was just a slump in August. Reddick’s career slash line is .255/.316/.420 and hasn’t had a bad season since 2013 where he batted .226/.307/.379. As far as power goes, his career high for home runs is 32 in 2012. He also hit 20 homers in 2015 but only 10 in 2016.
In May, Reddick suffered a thumb injury that halted what could have been an incredible season. In his first 146 at-bats, Reddick slashed .322/.394/.466 but was forced to miss more than a month with the fractured thumb. His presence in the Cardinals lineup would be more than welcomed if he can build off his success in 2016 as well as find his power stroke again.
However, Reddick, a left-handed hitter, struggles mightily against left-handed pitching. In 2016, he hit .155/.212/.155 against them and recorded more strikeouts (19) than hits (15). He also failed to record an extra-base hit against a lefty all season.
Despite that, Josh Reddick makes a lot of sense for the St. Louis Cardinals defensively. He has been a top defensive right fielder since his days in Boston in 2011. Through five of his next seasons, including 2016, he has been ranked in the top six right fielders at defensive runs saved. He’s also won a Gold Glove Award (2012) for his efforts in right.
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But the Cardinals have a right fielder: Stephen Piscotty. Signing Reddick would likely mean he’d be a left fielder and Reddick hasn’t played any position other than right since April of 2015. He hasn’t started a game in center field since July 2014 and hasn’t started a game in left field since September 2011. Regardless, his defensive ability is unquestioned.
The other concern surround Josh Reddick is his durability and health. His recent thumb injury creates enough concern but Reddick has played more than 145 games only twice in his 8-year career and has been on the disabled list six times. However, Reddick plays with passion and gives his body up for the ball which earns respect, but also affects his availability.
Realistically, the St. Louis Cardinals would be lucky to have Josh Reddick. He’s an old-school, scrappy, hard-nosed player that puts the team first and himself second. He’s always been held as a great teammate and the Cardinals organization prides itself on their tight-knit locker room.
“You don’t come up to the big leagues to slack off — one out of 100 times, it can be a game-changer if someone screws up or takes their time,” Reddick told the San Francisco Chronicle. “You want to be a really good example for kids. I play that way in the outfield, too.”
Josh Reddick is a solid right fielder but the Cardinals already have one in Stephen Piscotty. Reddick could surely return to left and there is no reason to believe he would be anything but an above-average defender there. But if John Mozeliak’s focus does shift from center to a corner outfielder, Reddick’s durability and power could cause some concern.