We’ve heard a fair bit of chatter surrounding free agent center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who has been linked to a variety of potential suitors. To this point, though, it hasn’t been clear what sort of contract he might command.
It seems Bradley and agent Scott Boras are hoping to leverage strong demand into a much longer deal than might have been anticipated. Bradley is “seeking a significant contract, perhaps beyond four years,” sources tell Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter).
Reaching a contract of that duration would be quite the achievement, particularly in this market. Bradley is a quality performer who’d fit quite a few rosters, but there was little reason entering the winter to think he’d have a shot at a deal past two or three guaranteed seasons. MLBTR predicted a two-year, $16MM pact.
To be fair, Bradley is the type of player who seems likely to remain useful for a lengthy stretch. He’s a glove-first, left-handed-hitting outfielder who’ll likely have a late-career role as a fourth outfielder even once he’s deemed incapable of handling everyday duties in center.
That said, we’re talking about a soon-to-be-31-year-old player with a lifetime .239/.321/.412 batting line. Bradley is a very good defender and baserunner but mostly profiled as a solid regular rather than a star with the Red Sox. He was at his best in an injury-shortened 2020, though it’s hard to believe teams will put too much weight on his BABIP-boosted 120 wRC+ after three-straight campaigns of below-average output with the bat.
Whether there’s any realistic hope of a four — (or more?) — year pact isn’t yet clear. Perhaps it’s plausible if Bradley is willing to take a lesser average annual value. If nothing else, the fact that Boras is evidently tossing around such figures just weeks before Spring Training would seem to speak to the level of market interest in Bradley.