Former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. finally saw his free agency come to a close on Monday as his two-year, $24 million deal with the Brewers was made official.
The 30-year-old had been on the open market for a little more than four months, eventually reaching the point where he was the best position player still available by the time clubs reported for spring training in February.
A client of super-agent Scott Boras, Bradley Jr. never wavered while being in a situation others in his position might have considering the fact it was early March and he was still without a job.
Speaking with reporters via Zoom from Phoenix, Ariz. on Monday, the Gold Glover explained what led to him landing with Milwaukee after a long winter.
“This was an unprecedented offseason,” Bradley Jr. said. “This is my first free agency, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. I personally enjoyed it, because I focused on the things that were going on around me. I was able to spend a lot of quality time with my family and kind of let all that figure it out itself. I was just relaxing, and waiting for the opportunity. I was continuously staying ready, working hard.”
Coming off a successful 2020 season in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games while providing his usual superb defense in centerfield, the former first-round pick had multiple offers to consider, but he ultimately wound up signing a two-year pact with the Brewers that also includes an opt out after the first year.
“With the offer now, I just wanted to trust myself,” he added. “I believe in my ability and my talent and I feel like this particular deal offers me a lot of flexibility.”
Throughout the course of the offseason, Bradley Jr. seemingly had one definitive suitor in the form of his old club in Boston.
It never seemed all that likely that the two sides would come to terms on a new deal, but whenever he was asked, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom would say something along the lines of: ‘We love Jackie. We’re going to remain involved on that front until his free agency resolves.’
Bradley Jr.’s free agency ultimately resolved itself without the Sox getting overly involved, but the All-Star centerfielder did confirm that there were talks about a potential reuinion.
“I think, as a whole, you want to stay open-minded about it all,” he said when asked if there was a point this winter when he thought he might stay with the Red Sox. “Anytime you’re already closing off different avenues, then you’re limiting yourself. So I think as long as you’re pretty open-minded about listening and gathering all the information, that’s going to give you the best opportunity to make the decision that you feel is best for you and your family.”
Bradley Jr., who turns 31 next month, is slated to earn $13 million with the Brewers this season with the chance to earn an additional $11 million in 2022 if he declines to opt out of his deal.
That decision is a longways away, though, and the University of South Carolina product is just looking forward to familiarizing himself with his new organization for the time being. This is after all his first time reporting to a team whose spring training headquarters are not in Fort Myers.
And for what it’s worth, Bradley Jr. will wear the No. 41 for the Brewers. That number signifies the birth dates of himself, his wife Erin, his daughter Emerson, and his son Jackie III.
“It was a breath of fresh air,” Bradley Jr. said when describing what it was like to put on a Brewers uniform on for the first time. “To be able to finally be out here and moving around, I’m glad to be here. I’m really excited for the opportunity and I’m going to have a lot of fun with these guys.”
(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)