One of the final high-ranked free agents came off the board Thursday when longtime Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. inked a two-year, $24MM contract with the Brewers. Bradley will make $13MM this year, and then he’ll have to decide whether to exercise an $11MM player option for 2022 next winter.
Few would have expected the Brewers to sign Bradley, but now that he’s part of the team, the 30-year-old should further strengthen their outfield. He won’t be their No. 1 center fielder – that job still belongs to Lorenzo Cain, who’s back after opting out of the majority of last season – but will join left fielder Christian Yelich to form a rather promising starting trio. The Brewers also have Avisail Garcia on hand as a fourth outfielder.
In Bradley, the Brewers are getting someone who had one of his most productive offensive years during his last year in Boston (120 wRC+ in 217 plate appearances). However, Bradley has typically been closer to OK than great at the plate, having slashed .239/.321/.412 (93 wRC+) with 98 home runs since he entered the majors in 2013. But Bradley ups his value with well-regarded base running and outstanding work in the field, where he has accumulated 53 Defensive Runs Saved and notched a 36.5 Ultimate Zone Rating across over 7,400 innings in the outfield.
Based on his history, the Brewers seem to have landed at least an average regular in Bradley, and if he’s at peak form, he could certainly amount to much more than that in their uniform. As such, it seems like a reasonable gamble – one that could improve Milwaukee’s chances of winning a wide-open National League Central in 2021. What do you think of the move?
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