Athletics

Happy with Astros, Reddick wanted to stay with A's before 2016 trade

Happy with Astros, Reddick wanted to stay with A's before 2016 trade

Josh Reddick has made the full transition from green and gold to navy blue and orange.

He’s a Houston Astro through and through, and he thinks he landed in an ideal spot when he signed a four-year $52 million contract with Houston last winter.

But the former A’s outfielder still maintains he had a strong desire to sign a long-term extension with Oakland before he was dealt away at last summer’s trade deadline.

In a sit-down chat for the A’s Insider Podcast, Reddick says that despite the team’s history of trading their free agents-to-be or letting them walk, he held out hope that the A’s might buck that trend and re-sign him.

“Early on I thought there might have been a slim chance,” Reddick said. “… It was definitely somewhere I really wanted to make it happen. Once we realized the numbers weren’t gonna line up, I think I knew deep down it wasn’t gonna happen because I didn’t hear back from them after I counter-offered what they offered me.

“You learn to live with it, you expect it from those guys. But I guess deep down I kind of had a special feeling they might have made an (exception) for me.”

Reddick said the A’s never presented an offer that reached four years in length, which was important to him to get.

To be fair, the A’s had reason to be hesitant to sign the 30-year-old Reddick to a four-year deal. He missed significant time with injuries over his four-plus seasons in Oakland. And in packaging him and left-handed starter Rich Hill in a trade to the Dodgers, they scored an excellent return package in right-handers Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes, bolstering a system that needed more quality young pitching.

Among other highlights from the podcast, Reddick still is perplexed that the A’s traded off so many key players in the offseason following their 2014 Wild Card loss to the Royals. Third baseman Josh Donaldson, starter Jeff Samardzija, first baseman Brandon Moss and catcher Derek Norris, all All-Stars in ’14, were dealt the following winter.

“We still had (Scott) Kazmir, we had Sonny, and Samardzija was coming back,” Reddick said. “If you put Donaldson back in the lineup, Moss back in the lineup, it just changes the whole outcome and we probably don’t finish in dead last like we did that year. You just never know. And to this day I still don’t see how it made sense for that (Donaldson) trade to work, but luckily I’m just a player and not a manager or GM.”

In his first experience with free agency last winter, Reddick was happy he and the Astros hammered out a deal in November, taking away the stress of spending the bulk of the offseason wondering where he’d land.

“On a team like this, with this lineup and this hitter-friendly ballpark, it’s kind of hard to turn it down because they did come so aggressively and made it clear I was their No. 1 option. … When a team comes at you like that, it kind of makes your job easier and your decision a lot easier.”

 

Revisiting A's signing of Grant Balfour in free agency eight years ago

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Revisiting A's signing of Grant Balfour in free agency eight years ago

January 18, 2011 officially marked the beginning of "Balfour Rage."

The A's signed Australian relief pitcher Grant Balfour to a two-year, $8 million contract with a $4.5 million option for a third year. Balfour, who was 33 years old at the time, had spent the previous four seasons with Tampa Bay, seeing mixed results.

The right-hander was coming off a strong season in 2010, however, going 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 57 appearances. He had never been a closer in his big league career, but averaged better than a strikeout per inning as a setup man.

Performance

Balfour had a strong 2011 season in Oakland in a setup role. He went 5-2 with two saves and a 2.47 ERA, striking out 59 in 62 innings. Balfour eventually took over the closer role in 2012 and recorded 24 saves in 26 opportunities with a 2.53 ERA.

The A's exercised Balfour's option in 2013 and he posted a career-high 38 saves in 41 opportunities with a 2.59 ERA, earning his first and only All-Star appearance. He also set the A's franchise record with 41 consecutive saves converted.

Balfour quickly became a fan favorite, known for his fiery passion and screaming of profanities on the mound. "Balfour Rage," as it became known, sometimes rubbed batters the wrong way, but Balfour insisted it was just his way of pumping himself up. Needless to say, A's fans loved it.

[RELATED: How A's could learn from Coco Crisp signing nine years ago]

Lesson

The Balfour signing was a great success for Oakland. In three seasons, he went 9-7 with 64 saves and a 2.53 ERA. For just over $12 million, that was a bargain.

Balfour proved to be a late developer in his career. He didn't really put it all together until he was in his 30s. While the A's signed Balfour to be a setup man, they were open to an increased role for him and eventually he earned the closer job.

Of course, Balfour's personality was a big part of his success in Oakland. "Balfour Rage" resonated with fans and teammates alike. That became his identity and both he and his team embraced it.

2019 free agent comparison

It's not exactly "Balfour Rage," but Sergio Romo is quite flamboyant on the mound. Like Balfour, Romo wears his emotions on his sleeve and gets fired up when he records an important out, sometimes bothering hitters.

Romo, 35, went 3-4 with 25 saves and a 4.14 ERA last season with the Rays. For his career, the right-handed reliever owns a 2.86 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, averaging well over a strikeout per inning.

A's 2019 Projections: Josh Phegley could start unless team makes moves

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A's 2019 Projections: Josh Phegley could start unless team makes moves

Editor's note: Over the next few weeks, NBC Sports California will be analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.

Unless the A's add another catcher, Josh Phegley is poised to get the most playing time of his big league career. Phegley and Chris Herrmann are currently the only catchers on the A's active roster and they figure to platoon behind the plate.

Last season, Phegley hit .204/.255/.344 with two home runs, seven doubles, and 15 RBI in 39 games. The 30-year-old re-signed with the A's in November for one year at $1.075 million.

Phegley has a career slash line of .223/.264/.372. His best season came in 2015 when he hit .249/.300/.449 with a career-high nine homers and 34 RBI.

Phegley has performed slightly better against left-handed pitching throughout his career, hitting .243/.279/.414. The right-handed hitter figures to get most of next season's at-bats against southpaws, with Herrmann starting against righties.

Phegley has also been solid defensively throughout his career, maintaining a .992 fielding percentage and throwing out 33 percent of attempted base stealers, five points above the league average.

Baseball Reference projects Phegley to hit .223/.285/.368 next year with six home runs, 15 doubles, and 28 RBI. They estimate him at 242 at-bats, which would be a career-high.

[RELATED: Chris Herrmann 2019 projections]

Phegley has done everything the A's have asked of him over the years and proven to be a consistent player and great clubhouse presence. We expect a slight improvement from last season, especially if he gets increased playing time.

Projection: .227/.297/.374, 6 HR, 12 doubles, 27 RBI