The Dodgers Addressed Two Major Needs in Acquiring Josh Reddick and Rich Hill
The Los Angeles Dodgers entered Monday needing to address a couple of issues. They needed outfield depth and healthy starting pitching.
Why not kill two birds with one stone?
Source: Reddick and Hill to #Dodgers.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 1, 2016
Josh Reddick will most definitely give them another left-handed stick to plug in the outfield. It's the "healthy" aspect of starting pitcher Rich Hill where we slap them with the "kinda." Either way, the Dodgers turned to a single source in the Oakland Athletics to try to address both of their biggest needs, and they paid a big price for it.
Sources: Frankie Montas, Grant Holmes and Jharel Cotton going to #Athletics. @Jeffpassan first on Montas.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 1, 2016
Grant Holmes was the Dodgers' 5th-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com, with Frankie Montas in 8th and Jharel Cotton 13th. That's a big chunk of the Dodgers' farm system, and even though they're still pretty loaded, it's not a cheap move.
Can Hill and Reddick be worth it? Based on their peripheral stats, they absolutely can.
Hill's Late-Career Revival
Just last year, Hill was working as a reliever for the Washington Nationals' Triple-A team, posting a 4.40 FIP in 21 2/3 innings. As a 35-year-old with a lot of miles on the tires, it didn't seem like Hill had much left to offer a big-league team.
Then Hill went to the Boston Red Sox, found something new in five starts in the minors, and busted on the scene at the end of the year. In 18 starts since, including his 14 this year with the A's, Hill has a phenomenal 3.12 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) with a 30.2% strikeout rate and 7.9% walk rate. He went from a middling minor-league reliever to a big-league ace in a split second.
Hill has given us every reason to believe this year that his numbers are sustainable. His 10.8% swinging-strike rate validates the high strikeout rate, and he's allowing hard contact just 25.9% of the time. He'll no longer have to face a designated hitter in the National League, so you'd actually assume that his peripherals will get better as he comes to the Dodgers. That's a big-time get for a team starved for healthy starters.
That brings us to the one bugaboo with Hill at the moment: health. Hill has been dealing with a blister on his pitching hand since mid-July, an ailment that has him sitting on the disabled list. That ailment didn't seem to be one that would keep Hill off the mound much longer.
Melvin says Hill on track for Friday start.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 31, 2016
If Hill comes back and pitches as he did the first half of the season, then the Dodgers have found a true gem. Even if he slides a bit, simply having a Major-League-ready arm will be an improvement for the Dodgers, who have dealt with countless injuries in their rotation this year.
Reddick's Left-Handed Bat
Ever since Andre Ethier went down to injury prior to the season, the Dodgers have been lacking a left-handed-hitting outfielder who could crush right-handed pitching. Assuming that's what they'll ask Reddick to do, he should be able to provide the team with a lift.
Since the start of the 2014 season (922 plate appearances), Reddick has compiled a .297/.354/.506 slash against right-handed pitchers with 36 home runs while playing in a pitcher's park. All of this comes with an 11.9% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate that indicate these are sustainable numbers rather than a product of a split sample.
There was a slight cause for concern last year when Reddick's hard-hit rate fell all the way to 24.7% against righties, the second-lowest rate of his career. He has picked things back up in 2016, though, with a mark of 30.6%, just a smidge below his 31.1% hard-hit rates in 2013 and 2014.
Reddick's combination of a high fly-ball rate and a low strikeout rate will help the Dodgers immediately against right-handed pitching. They were 18th in outfield wRC+ against righties entering Monday's action, so that does seem like it was a need. However, they do still have another perceptive need to address, and it's not one Reddick will help: facing left-handed pitching.
Overall, the Dodgers are 28th in wRC+ against left-handed pitching this year with a slash of .224/.302/.359. That makes sense when you consider that both Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez are left-handed, but it also may make it seem as if acquiring a right-handed bat would be a bigger priority. Reddick's career slash against lefties is .222/.287/.372, so it's clear he's only coming here to mash righties. Should they have been working hard to get a righty instead of Reddick?
Despite the low ranking, the Dodgers are still 12th in hard-hit rate against lefties this year, a number that will normalize much more quickly than wRC+ or a slash line. Their 20.7% strikeout rate is roughly average, and their 9.3% walk rate is above average. Their peripherals say they should be good or better team against lefties, especially when they have both Kiké Hernandez and Scott Van Slyke healthy. The front office likely recognized that, making the targeting of Reddick a worthwhile move for the boost he provides against righties.
The Dodgers have been performing well since the All-Star break with an 8-6 record, pushing them up to second in numberFire's power rankings. This trade will only make them better.
Hill -- assuming that blister issue doesn't persist -- has shown this whole year that he has truly turned himself into a top-tier arm. The Dodgers were looking for a healthy starter, and given how much Hill's peripherals should improve in the National League, they just got themselves a good one.
Reddick will help the team get better production out of its outfield against right-handed pitchers. His plate-discipline numbers are those of a guy who could hit near the top of the order, and he still has enough pop to make a difference. He's a quality player, especially if the Dodgers were seeking a lefty stick.
The Dodgers certainly gave up a lot in moving Holmes, Montas, and Cotton. But this is a system that has quality, minor-league arms to spare. They dealt from a strength in order to address two immediate weaknesses, and the team is now better for 2016 because of it.