The Astros need to consider turning right field over to Kyle Tucker and putting Josh Reddick on the trading block before he becomes a free agent in 2021.
It’s looking like the front office of the Houston Astros won’t be able to avoid surpassing the luxury tax threshold with their 2020 payroll. But you can be sure they’ll be searching for ways to save in some areas, so they can spend the money where it’s really needed. With the emergence of Kyle Tucker late in the season, Josh Reddick and his salary may have become expendable.
Reddick is due to bring in $13 million in his final year of a four-year contract and will be eligible for free agency following this season. That salary has him sitting at 20th among Major League outfielders that are currently under contract for the 2020 season. But does he rank in the top 20 outfielders in performance?
His 2019 WAR of 1.0 has him ranked 48th out of the outfielders in the Majors and he comes in at 45th with a 94 wRC+. Both of those statistics have steadily declined each year he has been with Houston. This season’s WAR is the lowest in his career since he became a full-time player in 2011 and the wRC+ is his second-lowest. Reddick also had his worse OPS+ of 89 over that nine-year span.
In contrast, Kyle Tucker appears to be going in the opposite direction. After his disastrous showing in his late-season call-up in 2018, he seemed to have turn things back around in 2019. He had a slow start at the beginning of the year at the AAA level but really started to see his hard work pay off.
The Astros called him up in September and we saw flashes of why he was ranked as one of the top prospects in the league. He ended the season with an OPS+ of 118 and a 122 wRC+, both significantly better than Reddick. Tucker also began displaying the benefit of his speed with five stolen bases in 22 games.
In the Astros’ quest to return to the World Series, they’re going to have to fill some needs in several positions including pitchers, starters and relievers. Removing Reddick’s $13 million off the payroll could be of help. Whether another team would be willing to take on that salary for him is another question. The Astros may even have to eat some of that to make a deal. But I think it’s time to dangle him out there and see if anyone bites.