One of the more scrutinized Red Sox players over the past few years has been Jackie Bradley Jr. Despite this, the Red Sox are making the wrong decision if they let him walk.
Jackie Bradley Jr.’s Defense
Bradley Jr. has been, arguably the best Defensive Center Fielder in baseball over the past 4-5 years. Some of the best Red Sox highlights last year were his incredible catches. Bradley is also capable of throwing out runners from deep in centerfield. Overall, he is an incredibly well rounded and skilled defender.
His hitting abilities are quite the contrary. Bradley posted a .283 batting average in the shortened 2020 season, the best of his career. However, this was in only 217 plate appearances, less than half of his average. His career average still sits below .240, at .239. If Jackie Bradley was a good hitter, he might be the best player in baseball. He does have one of the longest hitting streaks in Red Sox history, but he is very inconsistent. He has however still shown flashes of good plate presence. One of the best examples is the 2018 ALCS, where he had multiple clutch extra-base hits and won ALCS MVP. We haven’t seen that version of Jackie Bradley in a while.
Free Agent Status
The Red Sox might also be moving on from Bradley if they have another move in mind. Many free agent outfielders are available, and the Red Sox seem ready to spend. I think even if the Sox add an outfielder, there could be a spot for Bradley. His playing time would however be compromised, so that is probably a disincentive to him. I could see Bradley used as a late innings defensive sub or a defensive specialist. I could also seem him rotating in to shuffle the lineup occasionally. But now it seems increasingly likely that he will end up on another team. The Red Sox have apparently reached out, but that may be more of courtesy than of negotiation.
In all, Jackie Bradley has been an integral part of the Red Sox outfield and has been one of the most fun players to watch in a Red Sox uniform. If this is the end of his time in Boston, I would be really disappointed. It seems as if he is already on his way out, and I appreciate his contributions to the Red Sox’s title runs. I still hope he comes back but, he will be well-liked anywhere he ends up.
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