The Reds acquired outfielder Brian Goodwin in a trade from the LA Angels in exchange for minor league lefty pitcher Packy Naughton and a player to be named later. Goodwin is 29 years old and bats left-handed.
Goodwin was selected by the the Washington Nationals in the first round (34th pick) of the 2011 draft. He debuted five years later at the age of 25 and played 22 games in the 2016 season. After playing off and on for the Nats in 2017 and the first half of 2018, Goodwin was traded to the Kansas City Royals at the 2018 trade deadline. He finished the season with the Royals, but they released him before the 2019 season.
The LA Angels claimed Goodwin just before the 2019 season began and he played in 136 games for them missing a couple weeks with a wrist injury. The Angels tendered Goodwin an arbitration offer at the start of 2020 but didn’t reach an agreement with the player. Goodwin won the arbitration hearing and is being paid $2.2 million this year. He has two more years of team control after this one but has no options left.
Goodwin’s 2019 season is the best indicator for how he’ll hit in 2020. In 458 plate appearances, he hit .262/.326/.470. That was a 109 wRC+ which means he was 9 percent above average in run creation. Goodwin hit for good power, at an ISO of .209. Comps for that from the Reds 2019 team are Jesse Winker, Phil Ervin and Yasiel Puig. His walk rate has been about 8% or just a bit above, which is league average. His strikeout rate is about 30%, which is bad. League average is 23%.
In 2020, he’s played in 30 games and hit .242/.330/.463 with a wRC+ of 113. That’s roughly the same outcome as 2019. Batting average down 20 points, but walk rate more than compensating. His power was still over .200 which is quite good.
But when you look under the hood, there are a few areas of concern. In 2019, Goodwin was in the bottom 20% in average exit velocity, expected batting average, hard hit percent and strikeouts. His xwOBA, which takes account his quality of contact, walks and strikeouts was in the bottom 22nd percent. His comparable there from the Reds last year is Curt Casali.
Goodwin’s xwOBA was 20 points below his wOBA. And this year that split is even greater, with his wOBA (.330) a full 35 points above his xwOBA (.295). So relative to the public-facing numbers he’s been lucky. Quite lucky. His batting average is .242 but expected batting average just .208.
One other detail worth mentioning is that Goodwin doesn’t have a platoon split based on the handedness of the pitcher. If anything, over his career he has hit slightly better against LHP.
Goodwin has played across the outfield through his major league career. His time in CF has declined the past couple seasons. With Mike Trout playing CF for the Angels this year, Goodwin saw action mainly in the corners. With the call-up of uber-prospect Joe Adell, who was installed in RF and Justin Upton playing LF, Goodwin became expendable for the Angels.
The defensive metrics are in stark disagreement about how Goodwin played in LF last year. Statcast has him at 4 outs above average in LF. But the DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) have Goodwin solidly in the negative range. His sprint speed is in the 83rd percentile.
Where Goodwin Fits
Brian Goodwin is a backup outfielder. His acquisition says more about how the Reds feel about Mark Payton than anything else. Between Goodwin and Payton, the club now has OK depth for LHH. Goodwin will stay with the big league club because he has no options left.
For playing time, I don’t see Goodwin ahead of Shogo Akiyama in CF. If the Reds do as they said today and give Aristides Aquino regular playing time in LF, Goodwin won’t start in that corner often. Once Nick Senzel returns, Goodwin won’t get much playing time at all.
Goodwin’s offense doesn’t project as well as his public-facing numbers indicate from last year or even the first half of 2020. His lack of a platoon split does make him a pinch hit candidate on either side. He hits for power against either RHP or LHP.