Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick left tonight’s game with what has been diagnosed as a fractured left thumb, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports (Twitter links). That represents a major blow for an A’s club that has already been hit hard by injuries.
Reddick will need to be checked by a specialist before a specific course of action or timetable can be established. But the veteran says he says he expects at least a four-to-six week absence, per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).
The 29-year-old has been a key contributor and important asset for the Oakland organization. He’s off to a blistering .322/.394/.466 start at the plate over 165 plate appearances. Even though fielding metrics aren’t crediting him with the same quality glovework he displayed for years out in right, Reddick is also a valuable contributor on the bases and is producing at career-best rates with the bat.
The loss of Reddick could tell in several ways, depending in large part on the length of his absence. Most immediately, he’ll obviously be missed in the lineup, which certainly doesn’t help the A’s chances of remaining in the hunt in the AL West. Beyond that, Reddick has frequently been mentioned as a possible trade target for teams needing help in the outfield. If he’s not able to return to health before the trade deadline, the A’s could lose an important chip if they do decide to sell. Of course, Oakland and Reddick have long been said to have mutual interest in an extension that would keep him off of the open market following this season. In some regards, the injury could actually make that more plausible, though last we checked talks did not seem to be taking place.
And, at an individual level, Reddick’s injury is poorly timed. The 29-year-old, to this point in the season, has done well to build up his stock heading into his first bite at free agency. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently rated him fourth on his Free Agent Power Rankings, noting that his consistently solid production and the weak class of free agents could ultimately net Reddick a five-year deal. While that could still very well be the case if Reddick comes back strong, lingering effects from a notable hand injury could potentially have a negative impact on his earning power.
With Mark Canha shelved for the season and Sam Fuld on the 60-day DL, the Athletics are already shorthanded in the outfield. Coco Crisp and Khris Davis will presumably see most of the action in the corner spots, with Billy Burns playing up the middle, but the organization’s ability to provide rest and play matchups will be hampered. That alignment is also of significant consequence for Oakland due to the option status of Crisp. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted on Thursday morning, Crisp isn’t too far off pace to see his $13MM vesting option trigger, and increased playing time during Reddick’s absence figures to accelerate that pace. As far as replacement options for Reddick, both Andrew Lambo and Jake Smolinski are at Triple-A and already on the 40-man roster, though neither is setting the world on fire at the plate in the early going.