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Orioles

Does free-agent outfielder Josh Reddick fit with the Orioles?

The Orioles have been interested in free-agent outfielder Josh Reddick for several years, including each of the past two trade deadlines.

Now, the Orioles wouldn't need to lose prospects in order to acquire the 29-year-old outfielder, only open the checkbook to add to a roster full of increasing monetary commitments.

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One of the team's top offseason priorities is adding a corner outfielder – preferably a left-handed bat – who would be a defensive upgrade.

Reddick fits the criteria almost all too well, an established defensive-minded, left-handed-hitting outfielder who would fit nicely playing Camden Yards' unique right field corner. Add in Reddick's .400/.442/.725 career slash line in 24 career games at Oriole Park, numbers that include 14 extra-base hits (seven doubles, two triples and five homers), and Reddick is an even more attractive offseason target.

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But what might make Reddick even more attractive to the Orioles than ever is the fact that he was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer after being dealt from the Oakland Athletics to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline. That means signing Reddick wouldn't cost the Orioles their first-round draft pick in next year's draft.

Reddick's free-agent stock took a tumble after a strong start to the season. He missed 41 games with a thumb injury suffered in late May and he struggled to duplicate his strong numbers with the A's – a .296/.368/.449 line – upon being traded to the Dodgers, with whom he hit just .258/.307/.335 in 47 games.

Even with his second-half dip, Reddick's season on-base percentage of .345 would have ranked second among Orioles starters behind outfielder Hyun Soo Kim's .382.

Reddick has always struggled against left-handed pitching – he owns a career .218 average against lefties – but last year, he hit just .155 with no homers in 104 plate appearances against left-handers. By comparison, Reddick hit .322/.386/.485 against right-handed pitching in 2016.

Reddick has been a plus defender over his career, winning an AL Gold Glove in 2012 while recording 19 defensive runs saved, according to Baseball Reference. His defensive metrics have declined over the past two seasons, but he still posted six defensive runs saved. Mark Trumbo, who made 95 starts in right field, recorded a minus-9 in defensive runs saved.

It's still not clear how much financial flexibility the Orioles will have this offseason, and the team is still weighing the feasibility of re-signing Trumbo, who has until Monday to accept or decline the one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer, or catcher Matt Wieters, who was not tendered a qualifying offer.

The team's pursuit of Reddick is mostly connected to their ability to retain Trumbo, not because of the right field connection, but because both would likely command a deal of three or more years. Considering his increased struggles against lefties, the Orioles would have to see Reddick as more than a platoon piece to make that kind of longer-term commitment.

Looking at it from a Utopian view, it would be nice to have both, allowing the Orioles to slot Trumbo as the everyday designated hitter and occasional right fielder against lefties, while Reddick plays in right regularly to help their defensive capabilities there.

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That likely won't happen, but Reddick will be a name you continue to hear being linked to the Orioles until he finds a landing spot.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard


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