HOUSTON — Josh Reddick will forever be grateful the Red Sox selected him in the 17th round of the 2006 draft and called him up to the majors three years later.
But he’s equally thankful they traded him after the 2011 season.
Reddick, now 32, never quite fit in with the Sox. Coaches at every level lectured him about working the count, swinging at strikes and being patient. But Reddick was the rebel who wanted to swing as hard as he could at anything close to the plate.
In that sense, he was ahead of time given how baseball has evolved into a glorified home run derby where exit velocity matters more than on-base percentage.
But back then, the Sox saw Reddick as expendable. He was swept up in what were a series of changes following the team’s September collapse in 2011.
New general manager Ben Cherington sent Reddick and two prospects to Oakland for standout closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney.
For Reddick, it was a career-changing moment. He emerged as a reliable player for the Athletics and has since played for the Dodgers and Astros. His 11-year career has included seven appearances in the postseason and a World Series ring with Houston in 2017.
“That trade was absolutely the best thing that could have happened for me,” Reddick said before Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees on Sunday night.
“The trade made complete sense at the time because they needed a closer. But I had no idea how much it would help me.”
Oakland GM Billy Beane recognized Reddick’s ability to hit for power against righthanders and play above-average defense in the spacious outfield at Oakland Coliseum.
Reddick hit 32 home runs and drove in 85 runs in 2012 and won a Gold Glove for a team that finished 92-70 and won its division.
“And I avoided that mess they had in Boston in ’12,” said Reddick, referencing the insurrection-filled season under manager Bobby Valentine. “It was perfect for me.”
The trade was a failure for the Red Sox. Bailey had a 4.91 earned run average in 49 games and was released after having shoulder surgery in 2013. Sweeney lasted one unproductive season and also was released.
Once Reddick got too expensive, the Athletics traded him to the Dodgers in 2016. Then the Astros signed him as a free agent.
Reddick has hit .263 with a .753 OPS, 140 home runs and 531 RBIs in his career. Through Saturday, he was 12th among active players with 51 postseason games.
“It’s a better career than I could have imagined,” Reddick said.
Outside of Reddick and Dodgers infielder Kris Negron, every player the Red Sox signed from their 2006 draft class is out of organized baseball.
“I feel like I made the best of my opportunities. But I don’t believe the ride is over yet,” said Reddick, who has a year left on the four-year, $52 million contract he signed before the 2017 season.
“I have plenty left in the tank. I’d love to play this thing out until I’m 40 years old. That was always the goal.”
Reddick doesn’t lack for motivation to continue playing. He became a father for the first time on Oct. 2 when his wife, Jett, had twin boys.
Maverick Joshua and Ryder Blaze arrived two days before the start of the playoffs. They have watched their dad play, even if they won’t remember it.
After his wife told him to go play, Reddick started Game 1 of the Division Series and scored a run in a 6-2 victory against Tampa Bay.
“I’ve changed a little bit already being a father,” Reddick said. “It’s an awesome thing. I never thought I’d be responsible for two little humans.
“I won’t change as far as the baseball world, but when I go home it’s all about them.”
In a sport with so many assembly-line personalities, Reddick is an original. He has befriended Ric Flair — Wooo! — and several other noted wrestlers; put “Mr. Irrelevant” on the back of his uniform for Players Weekend; and got married wearing custom-made Spider-Man sneakers and cufflinks.
The Reddicks also have five dogs along with their new sons.
“It’s a good life,” Reddick said. “It never mattered where I was picked. I knew deep down I was a good player and I wanted to show it to everybody.
“Wherever this takes me, I’ll play hard and try to win.”