11:30am: The Mariners, too, have interest in acquiring Bradley, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Bradley would certainly align GM Jerry Dipoto’s preference to add athleticism and defense to his outfield as well as his preference for trades over free agency.
8:30am: There’s a “growing sentiment” that Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski could break up his starting outfield trio of Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. The likeliest piece of that group to be moved is seemingly Bradley, according to Bradford, who has already generated trade interest from both the Cubs and Royals.
While Bradley enjoyed a nice overall season with the Red Sox this past year, one general manager opined that the Sox would be selling high if they were to move him at this time. The 25-year-old Bradley (26 next April) posted a nice .249/.335/.489 bating line in 2015 and justified the considerable defensive hype that comes with his name, saving eight to 10 runs (based on his respective Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating marks) while logging a combined 608 innings across all three outfield spots.
Despite the strong cumulative numbers at the plate, however, Bradley didn’t hit much outside of a torrid month of August. A .451 BABIP that month helped propel Bradley to a .354/.429/.734 batting line — the power he showed does indicate that there was more to the surge than pure luck on balls put into play — but he didn’t post an OPS mark greater than .739 (just barely higher than his August slugging, alone) in any other month of the season.
Bradley is unequivocally a dynamic defender, which makes it understandable that the Royals, who value glovework perhaps more than any other team in baseball, would have some interest in him. The Cubs’ interest isn’t a surprise, either, considering that president Theo Epstein was with the Red Sox when Bradley was drafted 40th overall in 2011. The question for Kansas City and Chicago — or any interested club — is whether Bradley’s 2015 batting line can be reproduced in a more consistent manner over the life of a full season. If so, that could make him one of the game’s most valuable all-around outfielders. If the end result of a full season of Bradley is closer to his lifetime .213/.290/.349 batting line, however, he looks more the part of an elite defensive fourth outfielder. That’s still a valuable piece to a Major League roster but, of course, would come with considerably less value than a premium defender whose bat was 15 to 20 percent above the league average (when adjusting for park).
The Red Sox would figure to have a lofty asking price on Bradley, whom they control through the 2020 season. Bradley’s service time (one year, 150 days) means he’ll be a Super Two player and qualify for arbitration four times instead of the standard three, assuming he is not demoted to the minor leagues again, but if he’s able to turn in comparable results to his 2015 production, a club certainly wouldn’t be bothered by that fact.
It’s worth noting in all of this that while a rival GM might’ve opined to Bradford that moving Bradley would be selling high, there’s no indication that the Red Sox are thinking in that manner at this time. Dombrowski recently labeled Bradley “one of the best defensive outfielders [he’s] ever seen.”