Huge news out of Western Australia today, as World Series champion outfielder Josh Reddick has signed with the Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball League. The 35-year-old Reddick last played in August of 2021 for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The ABL was making huge strides before the pandemic derailed things, as the winter league reeled in some well-established big leaguers like Delmon Young, Jeremy Guthrie and even Manny Ramírez. Despite Ramírez not actually taking the field Down Under, his mere name value added some major clout to the league. The 2021-22 season was canceled due to Australia’s rigid COVID-19 restrictions, but the signing of Reddick shows that the momentum that the league built over the past few years hasn’t gone to waste.
Josh Reddick is an absolute coup for the Perth Heat, as he adds an MLB star to one of the ABL’s most successful franchises. A career .262/.321/.426 hitter over 4,879 plate appearances, Reddick brings 13 years of big league experience to the Heat. He won a Gold Glove in 2012 with the Oakland A’s, as well as earning a dubious World Series ring with the 2017 Astros. Reddick will add a thunderous left-handed stick to a Perth team that lost rising star Robbie Glendinning to the Melbourne Aces in free agency.
Such a high-profile signing shows that the ABL is becoming a hot destination not just for young prospects, but also for well-established veterans. Josh Reddick already has generational wealth and an overflowing trophy case. He’s going to Australia because it’s the best place in the world to play winter baseball. Dan Vaughan, the play-by-play voice of the Heat, discussed the impact of the deal, saying, “Anytime you get a guy with that kind of track record you jump at that chance. Lachlan Dale (President of Baseball Operations) has built up relationships over the years and has time and time again landed game changing pieces through those relationships. Players also talk, and the reputation of Perth, the park, the organization and Western Australia is always talked about as a place to be. I was chatting with an Aussie player and an American player today in Kansas City and they both echoed what a great destination Perth is. Both players had played in the league and loved it.” Australia is becoming the number one winter ball destination in large part due to its safety, ideal location and native English language. For guys like Josh Reddick, it’s a no-brainer.
Josh Reddick didn’t just wake up today and decide to be a Perth Heater. He was introduced to the league by other players and coaches, and that played a significant role in his decision. Dan Vaughan elaborates, “This has built up over time with Josh. He played with a couple of the Heat players back in the day, as he and Luke Hughes were teammates with the A’s in 2012. He also played with Liam Hendriks in 2016 with the A’s. Not sure if Liam helped, but my guess is Luke did help as he and Lachlan are close. Baseball relationships last. I think sports relationships are special like that where guys are teammates for life.”
Josh Reddick on his own is big news. A player of his caliber can shift the balance of power in the ABL and perhaps bring the Claxton Shield back to Perth. However, this signing is about more than just one person. It shows that marquee players want to be in Australia. The level of competition there is steadily rising and guys like Josh Reddick will only help it grow. Clearly, the powers that be in the ABL have made serious inroads into MLB and even more big names are sure to come. Today, Josh Reddick. Tomorrow, who knows who’ll come to Australia?