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A's aim to avoid arb with Reddick, who skips FanFest

Club has yet to come to agreement with first-time arbitration-eligible outfielder

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OAKLAND -- A notable face wasn't seen at A's FanFest on Saturday.

Right fielder Josh Reddick, originally scheduled to be in attendance at the annual event -- which drew more than 20,000 fans this year -- was missing from the buzzing scene after backing out for unknown reasons Friday.

There was speculation that his absence was related to his unresolved arbitration case, though players are obviously welcome to attend club functions -- and expected to report to Spring Training -- even while these negotiations remain ongoing.

The 26-year-old Reddick is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career, and he is asking for $3.25 million. The A's are offering $2 million, and the two sides have yet to find middle ground. As a result, an arbitration hearing has been scheduled -- they take place between Feb. 1-21 this year -- while the A's remain optimistic they can avoid court.

Reddick remains under club control regardless, and general manager Billy Beane, speaking to media on Saturday, said, "These things always get done, so it's not a big concern for us."

Asked if Reddick's absence Saturday was related to his arbitration case, Beane replied, "I have no idea. I know he's a signed player. That's why it's not a big deal."

Since taking over as Oakland's general manager in 1997, Beane has avoided arbitration hearings with all but two players. The A's won both cases, most recently beating Juan Cruz in 2005 and Ariel Prieto -- now on the club's coaching staff -- back in 2000.

Reddick's camp would do well coming to an agreement before heading to court, given the unpleasantness involved in such hearings. It's the player's representation's job to boast of said player's accomplishments to the assigned three-member panel. The team, however, must note negative things in its argument.

And for Reddick, there was unfortunately a lot of that in a disappointing 2013 campaign, following his breakout 2012 season -- in part because of a wrist injury that put him on the disabled list twice. How much of a factor this had on his play is inconclusive, but it did force Reddick to miss 37 games.

In the 114 games he did play in, Reddick hit .226/.307/.379 with 12 home runs and 56 RBIs, down from .242/.305/.463 with 32 homers and 85 RBIs in 156 games in 2012. His .226 average ranked last among regular right fielders, and his on-base and slugging percentages were 26th.

This inconsistency could play to Oakland's favor, particularly since Reddick, a Gold Glove Award winner in 2012, has been paid to par in his first three big league seasons, earning a total of $1.412 million over the course of his 3.050 years of service. He took home $510,000 in 2013.

Reddick's superb defense remains his biggest asset, and it's a big reason why he was continually thrown into the fray last year despite woes at the plate. He underwent surgery on his right wrist in October and is scheduled to be in camp for the club's first full workout on Feb. 20 without any limitations.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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