The Giants are interested in acquiring Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network (Twitter link). Bradley is one of “many” outfielders the Giants are eyeing, notes Morosi, who reported Friday that they have discussed right fielder Giancarlo Stanton with the Marlins.
The 27-year-old Bradley would be a much less exciting addition for San Francisco than Stanton, who’s a National League MVP finalist after bashing 59 home runs in 2017, but he’d nonetheless upgrade its outfield. The Giants’ starting center fielder in 2017 was the 33-year-old Denard Span, who easily ranked last in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved (minus-27) and posted a similarly dreadful minus-7.5 Ultimate Zone Rating. Unsurprisingly, then, executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean has identified center field as a position where the Giants must improve.
“Center field needs to be upgraded,” Sabean said this week.
Bradley would fit the bill from a defensive standpoint, having combined for 34 DRS and a 23.5 UZR in center dating back to 2014, his first full season. The lefty-swinger complemented his excellent glove work with terrific offense from 2015-16, slashing .262/.345/.489 with 36 home runs and a .227 ISO in 891 plate appearances, but his production in that department took a step back last season. In 541 trips to the plate, Bradley hit a disappointing .245/.323/.402 and saw his ISO plummet to .158. On the positive side, Bradley still went deep 17 times, and he ranked as one of the premier baserunners in the game for the second straight year, according to FanGraphs’ BsR metric.
While it’s unclear what the Giants would have to give up for Bradley, he’d presumably bring back a solid haul as someone who still has three years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He’s projected to earn an easily affordable $5.9MM in 2018, which surely appeals to a San Francisco club that already has approximately $170MM committed to 16 players for next season and is trying to stay under the $197MM luxury tax threshold. Conversely, the Red Sox are more than willing to spend upward of $197MM if it means improving their offense, which struggled in 2017. Dealing Bradley and acquiring a big-hitting outfielder like Stanton or free agent J.D. Martinez would help them do that.