Potential Red Sox free-agent target Jackie Bradley Jr. remains unsigned as major-league camps in Arizona and Florida are set to begin in just a matter of weeks.
There have not been too many recent rumblings as to where Bradley Jr. could land, but on Wednesday evening, The New York Post’s Mike Puma reported that the 30-year-old outfielder “has been seeking a significant contract, perhaps beyond four years.”
Bradley Jr., who turns 31 in April, is a client of super-agent Scott Boras.
The one-time All-Star and one-time Gold Glove award winner is coming off a 2020 campaign in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played (217 plate appearances) for the Sox.
Boston has expressed interest in a reunion with Bradley Jr. since the closing stages of last season, but the two sides do not appear to be anywhere close to an agreement on a new contract at the moment.
“As far as Jackie, as it’s been all offseason, we continue to stay in touch with him,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters late last month. “We have been this entire time. And I expect we’ll continue to until his free agency resolves.”
Although it’s out there that Bradley Jr. may be seeking a four-plus year deal from interested clubs, it would be interested to see how much he is looking for in terms of average annual value.
The former first-round draft selection may be the top centerfielder on the open market now that George Springer has signed with the Blue Jays, but the fact of the matter is that Bradley Jr., while superb in the outfield, has proven to be inconsistent at the plate over the course of eight-year major-league career.
With that in mind, it seems unlikely that a team such as the Mets would be willing to invest that much in a practically defense-first outfielder who is now on the other side of 30, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors’ Jeff Todd.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, are inching towards towards the $210 million luxury tax threshold with their 2021 payroll following the signings of Enrique Hernandez and Garrett Richards being made official, so they would probably prefer to avoid that much of an investment as well.
Given those circumstances, Boston could stand put and roll with an everyday outfield of Andrew Benintendi in left, Alex Verdugo in center, and Hunter Renfroe in right to open the 2021 season if they so choose.
Jarren Duran, one of the club’s top outfield prospects, also appears to be on the cusp of getting big-league consideration sometime this summer.
The 24-year-old, who played winter ball for Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League, is currently representing Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series.
If not Verdugo or Duran, the Red Sox could look at other free-agents still available who have experience playing center field, such as Jake Marisnick and old friend Kevin Pillar.
(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)