The Red Sox are advising rival organizations that they’ll consider dealing away center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). That stance, he notes, is tied to the team’s efforts to add a power bat — presumably, one that would occupy a corner outfield spot and bump Andrew Benintendi into center.
Several teams have been circling Bradley early in the offseason, though there had been no clear indication that Boston would offer him up. A move involving Bradley — whether or not directly tied to the acquisition of a new bat — has always seemed connected to any effort to add pop to the Boston outfield. Of course, there’s also room to add at first base, so there were and likely still are scenarios where Bradley stays right where he is.
Certainly, retaining the quality all-around performer would hardly be a poor option for the Red Sox. The 27-year-old took a step back at the plate last year, but still hit 17 home runs and landed within range of overall league-average production with the bat. Plus, he’s a highly regarded performer on the bases and in the field, so he graded out as a quality regular even despite falling well shy of his 2016 offensive output — a .267/.349/.486 breakout that leaves traces of a tantalizing ceiling.
For the Red Sox to part with Bradley, they’d surely need to be zeroing in on a major addition. And they’d likely also need to receive some real value in return. Bradley is still controllable for three more seasons via arbitration and is projected by MLBTR to earn a manageable $5.9MM for 2018. While his Super Two status gave him a high floor to build off of, he’s still a potential bargain given his track record of overall performance in recent seasons.