Dodgers Trade Rumors: A Tale of Two Outfielders

Jul 24, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce hits a three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Diamondbacks won 9-8. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 24, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce hits a three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Diamondbacks won 9-8. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

Reports have the Dodgers attached to a pair of left-handed outfielders. Which one should the Dodgers go after?

It’s honestly impressive how the Dodgers have simultaneously had too many outfielders and not enough outfielders over the last few seasons.

Last season, the Dodgers had to bring in Chris Heisey and Justin Ruggiano to help Scott Schebler keep the outfield in tact. Andre Ethier is useless against lefties, Joc Pederson was pretty much useless for the second half of the season and Yasiel Puig was useless while he was on the DL.

This year, Ethier is on the DL, Pederson has been better, Puig is hurt, Enrique Hernandez and Trayce Thompson are also both hurt, although they should be returning soon. Howie Kendrick has started 43 games in left field and Andrew Toles has started in right for the last week, so while they have four outfielders aching, they’re in the market for outfield help.

Stark mistakenly said that the Dodgers were searching for a right handed bat, then pointed to Josh Reddick as potentially that bat. This front-office is forward thinking, but I doubt they’d ask a player to hit with his opposite hand.

So as the deadline approaches (1:00 PM Monday), the Dodgers could be looking at one of these outfielders. Josh Reddick and Jay Bruce. Which one should Dodger fans be rooting for?

Bruce is having a comeback year in Cincinnati after two poor years. He’s slashing .268/.319/.566 and leads the NL with 80 RBIs (which doesn’t mean a lot to me, but he’s been good at the plate). His 24 homers are sixth in the NL, and 11 of those have come on the road so it isn’t all due to Great American Ballpark. The lefty doesn’t have horrible platoon splits this season and his numbers against lefties aren’t too bad for his career, so unlike Ethier, he isn’t a guy that has to be benched against lefties.

Defensively is where things get a little dicier. Half a season is not enough to make judgements based on defensive metrics, but Bruce has been awful to start this season on defense. FanGraphs had a write up on it, which in short basically said that scouts think Bruce is average/slightly above average defensively and metrics place him in the lower echelon on defensive right fielders. Bruce had knee surgery in 2014 and since then, his defensive numbers have slipped from his elite 2013 defensive numbers.

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Bruce is under contract for the remainder of this year and has a $13 million team option for next year with a $1 million buyout.

Reddick missed a little more than a month with a broken thumb, but when he’s been playing, he’s been very good. Reddick owns a .298/.371/.451 slash with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 264 plate appearances. His platoon splits are much more drastic this season in only 64 plate appearances against lefties, but it’s slightly less drastic for his career. He’s not great against lefties, so he would probably have to sit in most games against lefties, which doesn’t really help many of the Dodgers’ issues. That’s probably why Stark reported the Dodgers were searching for a right-handed hitter.

Reddick’s defense also isn’t great, but it’s probably a little better than post-surgery Bruce. Reddick has a +1 DRS (Bruce is -12), but they’re both well below average in UZR.

Reddick is a free agent at the end of the season, so trading him would probably cost the A’s a potential qualifying offer/draft pick.

Neither of these players are worth breaking the bank for. This trade market has been ridiculous, but most of the high prices have been for pitching. Melvin Upton has been the biggest outfielder traded, and he brought back Hansel Rodriguez, who now slots in as the 20th best prospect on the Padres. Upton is under contract for another year and will make over $16 million next year, so while it’s not a perfect comp, it’s safe to think that outfielders won’t cost a top organization guy.

It’s the Dodgers, so there’s always a chance that Bruce or Reddick is just a part of a much larger trade. The Bruce rumors seemed to involve a three-team deal (potentially with Tampa), so that would obviously cost a bit more. A deal with Oakland for Reddick could include a pitcher (Sonny Gray/Rich Hill/Sean Doolittle), so in both of those cases the prices would be higher.

In all, a straight trade for Reddick would probably be their best move. Reddick would give the lineup some pop and keep the defense solid. Neither player has played left field recently, so a trade could be bad news for those, like myself, that want to see Yasiel Puig in Dodger blue for a long time.

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Trading just for Reddick would also be the cheapest option. This trade market is bonkers and teams are giving up top prospects for the Andrew Cashner‘s of the world. The Dodgers need to make a trade, but they also need to avoid overpaying for a marginal upgrade. If this front office has taught me anything, it’s that it won’t be a basic trade, but there’s going to be a lot of moving parts and the Dodgers will probably get the best player, get a top prospect and save money all at the same time. If that’s the case, Reddick is probably the best option as well seeing as there’s not much else in Cincinnati worth trading for (unless a third team gets involved, in which case all bets are off).