Red Sox Rumors: Jackie Bradley Jr. reunion still a possibility

Sep 13, 2020; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (19) fields a ball during the third inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2020; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (19) fields a ball during the third inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports /

A Jackie Bradley Jr. reunion with the Red Sox is still a possibility

Less than 24 hours after the last remaining “Killer B” in the form of outfielder Andrew Benintendi was traded to the Kansas City Royals, reports have surfaced that there is a belief within the MLB industry that a Boston Red Sox and Jackie Bradley Jr. reunion is still a possibility. In doing so, the Red Sox would officially have a true center fielder back and address the current speculation of who would assume duties for 2021.

The rumor mill for Bradley Jr.’s services has dwindled in the past week, and his biggest suitor in the New York Mets signed former Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. this past weekend. Besides the Astros and Red Sox, New York appeared to be the favorites to sign Bradley Jr. but ultimately decided to swivel in a cheaper direction.

Reports of Bradley Jr.’s long-term contract surfaced, which appears to be a factor in the stalling of negotiations between the two parties that had been engaged for much of the offseason. While some insiders noted that the Mets were officially out on JBJ, conflicting reports surfaced that they could still be interested after agreeing to terms with Almora Jr. They could still be in the running for Bradley Jr.’s services. Interested clubs are likely waiting for the asking price to lessen, which could take a while given the fact that the former Red Sox outfielder is a Boras client.

An agreement to reunite Boston with its longtime center fielder seems a bit unrealistic, especially given the fact that the club is running low on options for the 26-man roster and likely prefer to grab a cheaper player with a little more defensive flexibility. Reports have shown time and time again that the front office remains very high on Bradley Jr. and would be interested in retaining his services. This became increasingly clear when what felt like an imminent decision to trade him during last season’s deadline never came to fruition.

The 31-year-old would surely be useful during a time of transformation for Boston’s outfield. After trading Benintendi, the plan for which player will slot into each outfield spot remains uncertain. There is not an abundance of internal options on the 40-man roster at present that can be called upon to play the outfield on a regular basis unless they intend to get creative as they did last season and call upon infielders to play the corner outfielders as then-manager Ron Roenicke had in 2020.

The corner outfield is not so much a pressing need to be addressed as center field. While Alex Verdugo had played center field for a decent amount of time during his tenure with the Dodgers, the front office appears to be high on his ability to cover the spacious ground that is Fenway Park’s right field. All three of the outfielders have played center field to some degree over the course of their respective careers, but the organization could stand to add a true center fielder.

With rising prospect Jarren Duran showing off his potential this winter in the Puerto Rican Winter League, it is fair to wonder how long it might be until he makes his major league debut. The answer is likely not by opening day as many fans would hope. The organization would likely prefer for him to get additional seasoning in the minor leagues in order to both buy some time in regards to starting his service clock and most importantly: making sure he is in fact ready to face major league pitching on a daily basis.

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With the Red Sox in a short-term rebuild at present, a long-term deal to retain Bradley Jr. does not necessarily add up to the goal of sustainability that the front office strives for. Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom recently made an appearance on popular podcast Section 10 and noted that the organization did not oppose long-term deals but the circumstances had to be right. Unfortunately, the current scenario in Boston does not seem to fit the criteria of the Red Sox’s current needs, and should the team make any further additions to the roster, it will likely come in the form of an aforementioned player with flexible defensive ability.