With the Red Sox now just a few million dollars shy of the luxury-tax threshold after their deals to bring in Garrett Richards, Enrique Hernandez, Martin Perez and Adam Ottavino, a reunion with Jackie Bradley Jr. appears unlikely, ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote Sunday. That’s not especially surprising on its own, of course, but Olney notes more interestingly that Bradley “could wind up with a three-year deal elsewhere.” That’d be a strong outcome for Bradley, who’ll turn 31 in April, given the difficulty mid-tier free agents have had in securing lucrative deals this winter.
Bradley has been connected most frequently to the Mets in recent weeks, although he’s also reportedly drawn interest from the Blue Jays, the Cubs, the Phillies and the Astros at various points this winter. The Red Sox’ likely departure from any bidding for his services won’t help Bradley’s market, but most indications still seem to suggest that he has a case for a multi-year pact wherever he ultimately lands.
A few more notes on the free-agent market…
- Olney also writes that the Tigers could look further at the third tier of free-agent outfielders, listing names like Adam Duvall, Jay Bruce, Kevin Pillar, Tyler Naquin and Matt Joyce as potential fits. Detroit already inked Robbie Grossman to a two-year pact and will likely hand him the keys to an everyday gig in left field, but their outfield mix still isn’t quite settled. JaCoby Jones has shown flashes of high-quality play in center field but lacked consistency while battling injuries. Victor Reyes has had a nice run at the plate over the past couple of seasons but has yet to ever tally 300 MLB plate appearances in a given campaign. The Tigers have plenty of younger options in the form of Travis Demeritte, Daz Cameron, Derek Hill, Christin Stewart and Rule 5 pick Akil Baddoo, but the first four all have minor league options remaining and Baddoo is no lock to make the club.
- Agent Paul Kinzer tells MLB.com’s Jon Morosi that his client, Edwin Encarnacion, hopes to play another two seasons at the MLB level and still has aspirations of reaching 500 home runs in his career (Twitter link). It feels like a stretch that Encarnacion could get to that mark in two years, given that he’s still 76 long balls shy of that illustrious milestone, however. The 38-year-old slugger has four seasons of 38 or more homers under his belt, but he’d need to land somewhere with an opportunity for everyday at-bats (presumably as a designated hitter) to even have a chance. Coming off a .157/.250/.377 showing in 2020, such an arrangement could be tough to find. That said, if Encarnacion rebounds in 2021 and is open to playing beyond the 2022 season, it’s conceivable that he could yet reach that mark.
- There’s “little interest” in bringing second baseman Kolten Wong back for the Cardinals at this point, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote in his latest Q&A with readers. A new home for Wong has felt likeliest since the Cards bought out his $12.5MM option for the 2021 season, although some Cards fans have held out hope for a new deal as the two sides have reportedly stayed in touch throughout free agency. The infield market has picked up steam recently, but that hasn’t translated to a deal for Wong — arguably the game’s best defender at his position.