The A’s were in this position at last season’s trade deadline, in last place and sending off veterans for prospects. But the deal they made Monday, general manager David Forst said, was “not our sort of typical buy-or-sell decision.”
That’s because it involved right fielder Josh Reddick, a fan favorite and one of the last remaining links to Oakland’s three consecutive postseason appearances from 2012 to 2014. The A’s on Monday traded Reddick and starting pitcher Rich Hill to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitching prospects Jharel Cotton, Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas.
“Josh has been here for a long time and in a lot of ways has been the face of the franchise over the past number of years,” Forst said on a conference call. “I can’t say enough about Josh’s time in an Oakland A’s uniform.”
Reddick and Hill, one of the American League’s best starting pitchers this season when healthy, will be free agents after this season. With the A’s unlikely to return to the playoffs this year, the front office took a similar approach to the deadline as in 2015, when they dealt veterans Scott Kazmir, Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard to pad their minor-league system.
The A’s and Reddick had discussed a potential contract extension dating to last year’s arbitration period, Forst said. But the sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Still, Reddick had voiced his desire to remain in Oakland, where he arrived in 2012, winning a Gold Glove and hitting 32 home runs in his first season.
“At the end of the day, it was clear we were not going to be able to get to where they wanted to be from a contract standpoint,” Forst said. “That was disappointing, and I think it was genuinely disappointing to Josh, too.
“I fully appreciate how much he enjoyed being here and wanted to stay. We never take lightly the fact that a player wants to be in Oakland, and that remains the case with Josh.”
Forst said the A’s also had considered an extension for Hill, whom they signed to a one-year deal last offseason. Hill is 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA, but he left his last start July 17 after only five pitches because of a blister on his pitching hand.
“Both players were in demand,” Forst said. “And ultimately the package that we got from the Dodgers we felt had the best interest of the organization in mind.”
All three pitchers the A’s received Monday are right-handed and ranked among the top 10 prospects in the Dodgers’ system entering the season according to Baseball America. Holmes was sixth, Montas ninth and Cotton 10th.
Cotton may be closest to the majors. The 24-year-old was 8-5 with a 4.90 ERA this season pitching mostly as a starter at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Forst said Cotton will remain in that role at Triple-A Nashville, and the A’s hope “we see him up here by the end of this season.”
Holmes, 20, was starting for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, going 8-4 with a 4.02 ERA. Montas, 23, had a 2.38 ERA in four Triple-A games before experiencing a setback related to a spring training injury. Forst said Montas had surgery this spring for a rib injury and recently suffered a stress fracture of a second rib.
Forst said the A’s hope Montas , can resume a throwing program this week but may not pitch again this season. He said Montas is “a special arm and special talent” who will get “every opportunity” to start.
To replace Reddick in right field, Forst said the A’s will “mix and match” with players such as Danny Valencia, Max Muncy and, eventually, Brett Eibner, who was acquired from the Kansas City Royals for Billy Burns over the weekend and is starting at Triple-A Nashville.
Replacing Reddick’s presence, however, may be a different matter. Reddick cultivated a relationship with the rabid fans of the Coliseum’s right-field bleachers and started the tradition in recent seasons of hitting players in the face with whipped-cream pies after walk-off wins.
While the A’s made just the one deal before Monday’s non-waiver deadline, Forst said the team had “a lot of other conversations” with teams, and they could make waiver trades in the coming weeks.
“We are not interested in moving players and throwing some sort of white flag for the rest of the season,” Forst said. “We’re not moving players for the sake of it. We moved players because we got deals that impact the organization.”