Jackie Bradley Jr.’s market may be heating up, but the Red Sox have remained interested in the free-agent outfielder, according to super-agent Scott Boras.
Per Boras, the Sox and Bradley Jr. have “certainly” had discussions about a potential reunion since his client declared for free agency last month.
“They’ve certainly expressed the interest and let us know that he’s a clear part of the Red Sox’ support hose, let’s put it that way,” Boras said earlier Tuesday via Zoom. “We know that he’s had great success there, he’s a winning player, and the Red Sox’ intentions are to advance their winning ways, certainly beyond what happened in ’20. As with most free agent players, we get notice of interest, then we’ll wait and see how the market unfolds moving forward”
Despite how poorly Boston played this past season, Bradley Jr. was a key contributor on both sides of the ball, as he finished second on the team in bWAR (2.1) behind only fellow outfielder Alex Verdugo (2.2).
Over 55 games played, the 30-year-old slashed .283/.364/.450 to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI. He also led all major-league center fielders in Outs Above Average (7), per Statcast, meaning he was credited with “recording seven more outs on balls hit to the outfield than an average center fielder in 2020.”
While providing his usual stout defensive efforts in center, Bradley Jr.’s offensive approach evolved in a way this past season. As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier and Pete Abraham, the former first-round pick showed a “willingness to hit the ball to center and left field” to the tune of a career-best 201 wRC+ when hitting the ball in those directions, per FanGraphs.
Boras figures that this added dimension to Bradley Jr.’s game will bode well for him once clubs are ready to make their final offers.
“I think the fact that he has really illustrated a dimension of a different approach, particularly going the other way, his OPS was well over .800, that seems to be very attractive to a lot of clubs,” said Boras. “They ask a lot of questions about it, what adjustments he’s made. When you have a world champion, someone who has done what Jackie’s done, being as young as he is, being as efficient as he is, as great of a teammate as he’s been, he’s received a lot of attention and we expect something very grand here going forward.”
Along with the Red Sox, Bradley Jr. is drawing interest from the likes of the Blue Jays, Cubs, and Phillies, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. The University of South Carolina product is likely seeking a multi-year deal worth nearly $10 million in average annual value.
And with the way the game is trending in terms of defensive metrics, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched for the Gold Glover to get that kind of money on the open market.
“JBJ is kind of the PBJ of the major leagues. He’s sweet, smooth, and spreads it all over and covers it well,” Boras said of Bradley Jr. “What Jackie does in a defensive runs-saved environment has been popular.”
How popular? We shall see.