Trade Bradley, Jr.
The Red Sox may be forced to part with one of their regular starters in order to get under the tax. They won’t contend without Mookie Betts and Martinez but Boston’s other high-priced players are tied to unmovable contracts.
That leads us to Jackie Bradley Jr. who is projected for $11 million in his final year of arbitration.
Bradley has always been a streaky hitter with a frustrating batting average but he provides a bit of pop with multiple 20+ homer seasons on his resume. He’s a smart base-runner and a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder. There would be plenty of interest around the league if the Red Sox placed Bradley on the trading block.
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His projected salary is high enough to give the Red Sox the savings they need but still affordable for most potential trade partners. Bradley will be a free agent after next season and the Red Sox haven’t made any indication that they plan to extend him, leading to his name circulating in trade rumors.
Andrew Benintendi could slide over to center and the Red Sox would need to find a cheap left fielder to fill in without adding much to the payroll. Losing Bradley’s glove would hurt but the outfield defense would still be solid with Benny and Betts.
Flipping Bradley for prospects would be the final step to put Boston just beneath the tax. They could kill two birds with one stone if they get a corner outfielder, fifth starter or bullpen piece in return, so long as that player costs less than $1 million.