Brent Rooker is not the A's outfielder the Reds should target at the trade deadline

Cincinnati should inquire about one of Oakland's outfielders — just not the one you think.

Oakland Athletics outfielders Brent Rooker and JJ Bleday
Oakland Athletics outfielders Brent Rooker and JJ Bleday / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds have an obvious weakness, and TJ Friedl's most recent placement on the 10-day injured list only intensifies the urgency. The Reds need a quality outfielder — preferably a right-handed hitter.

Prior to the season, this was a concern throughout most of Reds Country. But Spencer Steer's newfound position in left field, coupled with Jonathan India's presence in the outfield was supposed to remedy some of those fears.

But once Friedl and Matt McLain began the 2024 campaign on the IL, Steer's position on the field became a bit more fluid, and India was needed back at the keystone. As such, Cincinnati was left with Jake Fraley, Will Benson, Stuart Fairchild, and Nick Martini as the team's group of outfielders. You can see why, especially with Friedl's continued absence, that an additional outfield bat is still needed.

Will the Reds use the MLB trade deadline to upgrade their outfield?

With the need still as glaring as ever, the Reds could look to the upcoming MLB trade deadline in order to bolster their patchwork outfield. There are some short-term solutions like like Tommy Pham (Chicago White Sox) or Kevin Pillar (Los Angeles Angels), but Reds President of Baseball Operations typically looks further into the future.

It's doubtful that Cincinnati would look to acquire a rental, especially with Friedl projected to return sooner rather than later. But the Reds' lack of production from both Fraley and Benson may impact Cincinnati's wishlist this summer.

The Oakland A's would seem like the perfect trade partner. Oakland is going nowhere (except Las Vegas), and are looking to sell off their assets to the highest bidder. Brent Rooker has been a name tossed around most often as a potential trade chip, but there's another A's outfielder who'd be a better fit for the Reds.

The Reds should target A's outfielder JJ Bleday, not Brent Rooker

Rooker has some major pop — something most of the Reds' fanbase seems to covet. The 29-year-old ranks among the best in the game in barrel rate, hard-hit percentage, and expected slugging. But Rooker is a lot like Benson, and not in a good way. The A's slugger has a 35.8% strikeout rate and 36.7% whiff rate. Rooker is also limited defensively, and probably a better DH than an outfielder.

But JJ Bleday brings a much more well-rounded game to the table. The former first-round draft pick checks a lot of boxes for the Reds. Bleday is hitting .253/.335/.464 on the season with 11 round trippers and 28 RBI. Bleday has a 133 OPS+, which would eclipse the Reds' top player (Elly De La Cruz) in that category who has a 125 OPS+.

Bleday is a centerfielder by trade, but has seen time in left and right field as well. The 26-year-old strikeouts less than 20% of the time and his walk-rate is among the top 75% in the league. He's also under team control through 2028 and won't reach arbitration until 2026.

The only thing Bleday doesn't provide is a right-handed bat. The former Vanderbilt Commodore swings from the left side. Bleday's splits aren't drastic, but would probably still warrant platooning with either Fairchild or another right-handed bat.

The Reds and A's made a trade last season when Oakland shipped Sam Moll to Cincinnati. Will the two franchises attempt to make another deal this summer? If so, Bleday, not Rooker, should be the target.

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