The Red Sox have a tough predicament in their outfield between JD Martinez and Jackie Bradley Jr. But what can Boston do to ensure they are getting their best players on the field?
When you look up and down the Boston Red Sox lineup, which has been very strong this year, their off-season acquisition, JD Martinez, stands above the rest. No, he doesn’t have the best batting average or the best OPS, but he has lived up to the hype.
But if you keep looking down the lineup, you will find one of the best outfielders in baseball, Jackie Bradley Jr. There is no debating his defensive prowess, but his bat was, is, and is always going to be an issue.
Bradley is embarking on his sixth season in Boston, and his career average is a measly .237. This year he is off to another slow start, hitting .195 with a .584 OPS. The question with him has always been “when will the bat catch up to the glove?” I am not a negative Nancy, but it looks like it might never catch up.
But while Bradley lacks on offense, Martinez lacks a significant defensive presence. He has made routine plays look shaky this season. Yes, playing left field in Fenway is a monster that not many can tame, but it isn’t something that turns outfielders into little leaguers.
So the problem that the Red Sox are struggling with this year is whether or not sacrificing good defense is worth leaving Martinez in for.
My feeling is when Dustin Pedroia comes back, you will see a lot less of Bradley. That may not correlate at first, but when you break it down more, it makes sense.
We have seen Brock Holt play a lot of outfield in his time in Boston. He has picked up his bat this year after struggling with vertigo a lot of last year. He is no gold glove defender, but he is better than Martinez in the outfield.
Holt is injured right now, but even when healthy, he is platooning at second base until Pedroia is back.
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Holt can take some time from Bradley in the outfield, which would move Andrew Benintendi to centerfield, his natural position. This move would also help Boston get a better bat in the lineup, without having to put Martinez in the outfield consistently.
But on top of giving Bradley less time, the front office could decide to finally move on from him.
They could pair Bradley with Johnson, Velazquez, or Steven Wright, and try to get a good reliever. Or they could use that and try to find an outfielder who is good on offense and defense. There are countless teams that could use rotational depth, and one of those three guys can provide that.
Bradley is still a gold glove caliber defender, and maybe a change of scenery could help his offense speed up.
Either way, the Red Sox have a choice with Bradley. Will they continue to wait on his slow-developing offensive game, or continue to push forward with their two-year championship window?
The trade deadline is still quite a ways away, but the Red Sox could use the help soon.