First, the report:
Sources: #Cubs are looking at Josh Reddick. Bat coming around after missing nearly 6 weeks with fractured thumb. Theo drafted him in Boston.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 21, 2016
You may recall that this is not, strictly speaking, a new connection, as Morosi connected the dots between the Chicago Cubs and Josh Reddick several weeks ago, and we’ve been tracking him for a while now, particularly as he came back from the broken thumb.
The short version: Reddick is a high-contact lefty bat with a previous relationship with the Cubs front office going back to their Boston days, and he’s a free agent at the end of this year on a team that’s likely to trade him. At a surface level, the connection makes sense.
When we drill down into the roster situation, it gets a little more complex, however.
First of all, with the imminent return of Dexter Fowler (to say nothing of the eventual returns of Jorge Soler and Chris Coghlan), the Cubs actually have a fairly crowded outfield. With Willson Contreras drawing so many starts in left field, and Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist moving out that way to accommodate guys like Javy Baez and Tommy La Stella, there isn’t an obvious starting spot in the Cubs’ outfield unless guys like Contreras, Baez, and La Stella are going to sit a whole lot more.
That’s not to say the Cubs wouldn’t do it, of course. Having more veteran depth on the roster could help soften the late-season and playoff reliance on young players. It also keeps everyone better rested.
Still, my question with the Reddick rumors has always been: isn’t there a team out there that needs him even more and that would thus pay a much steep prospect price to get him?
And then there are the mild concerns with Reddick’s performance. Although he’s produced well offensively this year (.301/.380/.445, 123 wRC+), his formerly dominant defense is in question, with back-to-back years of sub-par defensive metrics. Further, there’s that broken thumb. He seems to be over it now, having been back for almost a month, though the offensive numbers haven’t quite come back (.254/.347/.397, 106 wRC+ since the injury).
Then again, the peripherals still look pretty solid, so maybe there’s no concern there. And maybe the defensive metrics are just wrong, as they sometimes are. And maybe the prospect price won’t be extreme.
And, hey, maybe the fit isn’t as tricky as I think. First of all, depth for miles is not a bad thing on a playoff contender. And Reddick now sports the kind of extreme platoon split that makes you wonder if it wouldn’t actually be that tricky to accommodate him (he starts against all righties, the other gents work in against all lefties, and you otherwise rotate frequently to keep everyone fresh).
Heck, there was a time when the Cubs were planning on having a big lefty bat in left field, and figuring out the details later.
We’ll have to keep an eye on this.