I read that Sandy Alderson said that there will only be one addition at the trade deadline and not to expect more than that. So if they can add just one player, who do you like better between Gerardo Parra and Josh Reddick? I think both can help in different ways.
Thanks for the question. There are a lot of factors to consider since both are outfielders. It would be simple if one played third base but between those two players, we’d have to choose one. Let’s compare the pros and cons for each.
Parra is a rental and wouldn’t cost one of the top pitchers or Michael Conforto. And since he’s a rental, he’s playing for a contract. A point for Parra.
Reddick, however, is under team control through 2016. There’s inherent value in that. Point for Reddick. The other side to that coin is that he’d cost more than Parra because he’s more valuable. What the Athletics would require in return is the variable we cannot account for because we just don’t know.
Historically, Reddick is better at what he does that Parra is at what he does. As a power hitter, Reddick is not great, but Parra has been a terrible leadoff hitter prior to this contract year. Reddick, since becoming a full-time player with Oakland, averages 17 home runs per 162 games played. He’s slugging .438 and has a 109 OPS+ in that time. Good, but not great.
As a leadoff hitter, Parra is hitting .368/.410/.663 in 106 plate appearances this season compared to an overall career slash of .274/.326/.395 with a 94 OPS+ through 2014, which itself was boosted by a career year in 2011. He’s about the worst base stealer I’ve ever seen in the leadoff spot on a regular basis, with a 63% success rate that dictates he should never attempt to steal. Who gets the point, the guy who’s steadily just a bit above average, or the guy who’s been steadily below average who happens to be hot right now? That’s a tossup.
Then you’d have to consider who’s likely to keep it up. Parra plays in one of the best hitter’s parks in the sport, and his offense has seen a comparable spike. He’s having a career year in a walk year, but he also out-performed his career numbers in the 46 games he played with the Brewers after the mid-season trade from Arizona in 2014.
But I’ll remind you that Arizona is a hitter’s haven as well, so it may just be that at 28-years-old, he’s entering his prime and figuring it out. He’s putting up career highs in line drive percentage and hard hit ball percentage, which may be fluky, but can’t be considered lucky. Keep in mind, however, that Citi Field isn’t close to the launching pad Miller Park is. Regression should be expected.
Reddick, also 28, happens to be putting up his lowest hard hit ball percentage since he joined the A’s. Despite his good results over his first 350 plate appearances (.281/.335/.451), his peripherals, including a BABIP higher than his career, leads me to heavily bet the under on his next 350 plate appearances. Parra also has a BABIP significantly higher than his career, but as mentioned, he’s making much better contact this season. Reddick’s BABIP, along with some low batted-ball marks, points to a certain degree of luck. Point for Parra.
Next thing to consider is the Mets current roster. The only outfielder that’s earned regular playing time is Curtis Granderson. That means the acquired player would need to play center on occasion. Point for Parra. You also have to consider the pipeline. Conforto could be called up any day now. Reddick would block him. Another point for Parra. I’m starting to sense a pattern.
You can argue that the Mets need a masher more than they do a table-setter. That would be a point for Reddick. But if acquiring Parra would allow Granderson to hit in the middle of the order, it would solve both problems just acquiring Parra, while obtaining Reddick still leaves the team short a real leadoff hitter. Not to mention, Travis d’Arnaud will return at some point, and he slots in the middle of the order.
There is the matter of team control for Reddick. While it would cost more to get him, it’s also likely the team could trade him away in the winter and recoup the prospects spent to acquire him. That could be a point for Reddick, but I’m hesitant to strongly consider this line of thinking because of Reddick’s peripherals. They don’t point to a real offensive threat going forward and the odds are much more likely he doesn’t retain his value. One Michael Cuddyer is bad enough. It’s a strong part of the reason the Mets are in this predicament in the first place. Stronger peripherals could sway me to gamble on an overall net value on trading for Reddick, then trading him away when Conforto is ready to take the job next April, but the odds are significantly against that.
So my opinion, after all these considerations, is to acquire Parra. He’d cost less, leave the projected 2016 roster fully intact, offer a better-rounded and constructed roster, and fill more holes than Reddick will.
That said, it all depends on what the Brewers would ask for. Parra would likely decline a qualifying offer and would net the Brewers a draft pick. Not only would they be trading Parra, they’d also be forgoing a pick and the slot money that comes with it, so any return would have to account for that. Parra is my choice between the two, but it’s not a no-brainer.