Red Sox Rumors: Push to trade Jackie Bradley comes up empty

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Jackie Bradley Jr.
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Jackie Bradley Jr. /

The Boston Red Sox reportedly discussed deals for outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. during the winter meetings but didn’t find an offer they liked.

The Boston Red Sox have a loaded roster that set a franchise record for regular season wins and went on to capture a World Series title. It would be great if they could keep the band together for the foreseeable future but that’s not realistic. Eventually, they will need to part with some pieces from the core of this roster due to payroll concerns.

Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and Xander Bogaerts are the notable talents eligible for free agency next winter. J.D. Martinez could join them if he exercises the opt-out clause in his contract. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit the market a year later. Locking each of them into new deals will be expensive, perhaps too costly for an organization that already has MLB’s highest payroll.

Which is why the team has explored options to get ahead of the problem by trading away one or more of these players for cheaper talent with more years of control remaining.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required), Boston discussed several of these players in trade talks during the winter meetings, with Bradley being the player they seemed most willing to part with.

"“The Red Sox will not retain all of those players, in part due to ongoing payroll concerns,” reported Rosenthal. “Talk surfaced at the winter meetings that the team was willing to trade Porcello, Bogaerts or Bradley to clear money, perhaps for bullpen help. A source said the Sox pushed Bradley the hardest, but did not find a deal they liked.”"

Bradley remains frustratingly inconsistent at the plate. His .234 batting average and .717 OPS last season were his lowest since 2014. However, he was much better in the second half (.269 AVG, .827 OPS) and came through in clutch moments throughout the postseason, earning the ALCS MVP along the way. Bradley has always been considered an elite center fielder and was finally rewarded with his first Gold Glove award last season.

These factors may have led the Red Sox to believe they could capitalize on Bradley while his value was at its peak, with his postseason heroics still fresh in our minds and some hardware to cement his status as the league’s top defensive center fielder. Clearly, they didn’t find the offers they were hoping for.

Boston isn’t simply going to give Bradley away. His glove provides tremendous value and their lineup is deep enough to endure Bradley’s frigid cold streaks at the plate. Still, he would be easier to replace than an ace, a former Cy Young, an All-Star caliber shortstop, or a pair of MVP candidates.

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The Red Sox wouldn’t mind bringing all of these players with them to defend their title next season yet hanging on to them means difficult decisions are on the horizon. If they can’t afford all of them in the long run, trading one away for prospects or younger cost-controlled players to ease the financial burden will make those decisions that much easier when the time comes.