An intriguing new team has emerged in the Jackie Bradley Jr. race, as FanSided’s Robert Murray (Twitter link) reports that the Brewers are “in the mix” for the outfielder’s services. Milwaukee made a push to sign Justin Turner before the third baseman re-signed with the Dodgers, indicating that the Brewers have some money to spend if they feel a substantial upgrade can be found.
While the Brewers technically have a regular center fielder in Lorenzo Cain and a full outfield altogether with Christian Yelich and Avisail Garcia in the corners, an argument can certainly be made for Bradley’s inclusion. Cain played five games before opting out of the 2020 season, and he also struggled at the plate while dealing with a number of injuries in 2019.
Those injury problems didn’t hamper Cain’s glovework, however, as Cain was his usual excellent self in center field. The idea of having both Cain and Bradley in the same outfield would be a dream from a defensive standpoint, and the Brewers could also deploy Bradley in center to give Cain some off-days, while occasionally sitting Bradley when a tough left-handed pitcher is on the mound. Garcia would likely see the biggest reduction in playing time, coming off a season that saw him hit only .238/.333/.326 over 207 plate appearances.
Bradley’s bat has been inconsistent over the years, though he hit .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs over 217 PA with the Red Sox in 2020. His hard-contact numbers weren’t impressive, marking a bit of a strange reversal from the 2017-19 seasons that saw Bradley made much more solid contact but it didn’t translate to above-average offensive production.
Several clubs have been linked to Bradley over the course of the offseason, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that “about a half dozen teams” still considering signing the 30-year-old (who turns 31 in April). Such teams as the Giants and Astros have shown interest in Bradley and still have obvious room in their outfields, though The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal noted today that signing Bradley would put Houston over the luxury tax threshold, which would hamper the team from a draft-compensation standpoint this winter for both its own free agents (i.e. Carlos Correa) and any free agents it might pursue.
Other possible Bradley suitors like the Red Sox, Mets, Cubs, and Phillies could be only on the periphery based on other additions made this offseason. With Bradley still on the market as Spring Training begins, however, it could open the door for more non-obvious teams like the Brewers to check in to see if a deal could possibly be had.