Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick was suddenly and mysteriously absent from the Athletics’ Fan Fest Saturday. Schedule to appear along with many of his teammates, Reddick sent out a couple of last minute tweets Friday night,
@JoshReddick16 Hey A’s fans. Sorry I couldn’t make it out there today. Just didn’t work out for me this year. Ready to get back to winning another AL west
@JoshReddick16 title and go even farther this year! See y’all in the spring!
Truly, his absence can be attributed to anything from him being tired or his having another last minute engagement. Some of his twitter followers even speculated that it could have something to do with his off season left wrist surgery. That scenario is very unlikely. The surgery was reportedly very successful and Reddick is expected to report to spring training, in less than two weeks, completely healthy.
A more likely scenario is that Reddick was a no-show at Fan Fest because he has yet to negotiate a contract with the team for 2014.
It is looking as though he is going to end up taking the team all the way to an arbitration hearing. These hearings are not pleasant as the team must explain why the player does not deserve the amount of money he is asking for and the player must make a case that he does deserve a higher amount of money than the club is offering. These proceedings, presided over by a panel of three judges, often cause unpleasantness between the two parties as the club must note negative things in their side of the argument. When asked if the looming arbitration hearing had anything to do with Reddick’s absence at Fan Fest, A’s general manager, Billy Beane said only,
“I have no idea. I know he’s a signed player. That’s why it’s not a big deal.”
Over the winter, Reddick asked the A’s for $3.25 million for 2014. The team has offered him $2 million. More often than not the player and the team will agree on an amount somewhere in the middle. Most of the time that amount is the exact midpoint between the two numbers. For Reddick, this would mean earning $2.625 million this season.
The midpoint seems reasonable which is why most players settle before their scheduled hearing. There have been no reports of recent negotiation talks between Reddick and the Athletics. If the arbitration hearing does take place, Reddick will be only the third player to take the negotiations to a hearing under Beane’s tenure as the A’s general manager. Since taking charge of the club in 1997, Beane has been able to avoid arbitration hearings with every eligible player except for Ariel Prieto in 2000 and Juan Cruz in 2005. In both of those cases, the Athletics have emerged the victor. It’s not inevitable that any unpleasant feelings will stay between the club and the player. Prieto, for example, is now on the club’s coaching staff but there are no guarantees.
Unfortunately for Reddick, the A’s already seem to have the upper hand in these negotiations. Reddick, who in a breakout year in 2012 batted .242 with 32 home runs and won a Gold Glove Award, had a much less productive season in 2013. This was in part due to an injury to his left wrist that caused him to miss 37 games last season. In the 114 games he did play he batted only .226 with just 12 home runs. It is also important to note that Reddick has been paid fairly over the course of his first three big league seasons earning a total of $1.412 million. Many young players do not make as much.
While the Athletics are still aiming to avoid an arbitration hearing, Reddick’s absence from Saturday’s event does not bode well for the two parties. The final day of Major League Baseball’s arbitration hearings is February 21, 2014, one day after Reddick is supposed to report to Phoenix Municipal Stadium for Spring Training. Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations or the hearing, Reddick still remains under the team’s control as a signed player. On Saturday Beane nonchalantly told the media,
“These things always get done, so it’s not a big concern for us.”
While the team remains unconcerned about the upcoming proceedings, they do seem to be a big source of concern for Josh Reddick.