2:55pm: The Blue Jays have announced the signing, optioning utility player Otto Lopez to make space on the active roster and designating righty Matt Peacock for assignment to create space on the 40-man. Peacock was claimed off waivers from the Royals in July and has thrown ten innings for the Jays this year with a 5.40 ERA.
2:20pm: The Blue Jays are signing outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., reports Ezekiel Telemaco of WEEI. Chris Cotillo of MassLive confirmed the deal on Twitter, reporting that it’s a major league deal. The Blue Jays have a full 40-man roster, meaning a corresponding move will be required.
Bradley, 32, was just released by the Red Sox last week and will now land with their division rivals in Toronto. The defensive specialist is having yet another down season at the plate, hitting .210/.257/.321 on the year. That production is 42% below league average, by measure of wRC+. The Red Sox let rookie Jarren Duran take over the center field position in recent months, with Bradley kicked to a corner. He was further nudged out of the outfield mix when they acquired Tommy Pham at the deadline, leading to Bradley’s release.
Despite that tepid offensive production, Bradley can still provide value with his glove. Defensive Runs Saved has given him a five on the year, a drop from last year’s 12 but still quite good. Ultimate Zone Rating has given him a 4.9 on the campaign so far after a 10.7 last year. Outs Above Average has given him three on the year already, after accruing four last year. That puts him in the 84th percentile among fielders across the league this season.
The Blue Jays recently put George Springer on the injured list, but acquired Whit Merrifield at the deadline for some extra outfield depth. That gives them a current outfield rotation of Merrifield, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer. It seems unlikely that Bradley would get regular playing time over those first four, given his struggles with the bat. Zimmer, however, has been used primarily as a defensive replacement and pinch runner, hitting a meager .107/.212/.240 when in the lineup this year for a wRC+ of just 28. Perhaps the Blue Jays view Bradley as a better option for that defensive replacement and pinch runner position.
Bradley has shown more promise with the bat in the past, putting up a batting line of .283/.364/.450 as recently as 2020, producing a wRC+ of 119 in the shortened season. It was on the heels on that strong campaign that the Brewers signed him to a two-year, $24MM deal. However, Bradley struggled in his first year outside of Boston, hitting just .163/.236/.261. He was traded back to the Red Sox in the offseason, along with two prospects, while Hunter Renfroe went to Milwaukee. Though Bradley hasn’t been as bad as he was last year, it was still enough to get released. The Red Sox will still be on the hook for the bulk of his contract, with the Blue Jays only having to pay the prorated league minimum, which be subtracted from what Boston pays.