Former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. officially signs with Brewers

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)

Chaim Bloom on possibility of Red Sox making more additions before Opening Day: ‘There’s still some players out there that are of interest’

Even after making a slew of roster moves this offseason, the Red Sox are likely still not done making additions between now and Opening Day on April 1.

Outside of the Marwin Gonzalez signing being made official sometime in the near future, nothing in regards to a roster move for Boston is imminent at this point, but that is not going to stop the club from exploring opportunities to improve for the short- and l0ng-term.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much on Sunday when asked if this is the roster that will kick off the 2021 season.

“Outside of what you alluded to (Gonzalez), there’s nothing else pending,” Bloom said via a Zoom call with reporters. “But, we’re always going to be on the lookout. There’s still some players out there that are of interest. We’re going to keep staying in touch with them, keep monitoring them. You guys saw the other day, we made a waiver claim.”

On Thursday, the Sox claimed right-handed reliever John Schreiber off waivers from the Tigers while placing ace left-hander Chris Sale to the 60-day injured list.

It was a transaction that, on the surface, is reminiscent of when Boston claimed right-hander Phillps Valdez off waivers from the Mariners last February and placed the now-retired Dustin Pedroia on the 60-day injured list in a corresponding move.

Valdez, 29, seemingly came out of nowhere and wound up making quite the impact in his debut season with the Red Sox, posting a 3.26 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 24 relief appearances and 30 1/3 innings pitched in 2020.

Expecting Schreiber, 27 in March, to do the same with his new team this coming season might be a bit unfair, but it’s safe to assume that Boston is making these sorts of moves with the idea that the players they bring in can contribute to the cause.

“This is a time of year when sometimes there can be that kind of roster shuffling in other organizations,” Bloom added. “It’s a bit early in spring to start having a lot of those conversations with other clubs, but we just want to make sure that we’re active. That we have our finger on the pulse and that we don’t walk past anything that has a chance to help us.”

While it still may be too early in the spring to engage with teams on players who may or may not be available via trade, one area the Red Sox can turn to is the free-agent market. And one free-agent the team is still interested in is old friend Jackie Bradley Jr.

Despite coming off a 2020 campaign in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played, the 30-year-old client of Scott Boras remains unsigned with just weeks to go until the 2021 season begins. That might have something to do with his reported asking price as well as the limited number of suitors out there.

The Red Sox, even while adding the likes of Gonzalez, Franchy Cordero, Enrique Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe to help bolster their outfield depth, have yet to rule out a reunion with Bradley Jr. — who spent the first eight seasons of his major-league career with Boston — to this point.

“We continue to stay in touch and make sure we’re in touch with Scott about his situation,” said Bloom in regards to Bradley Jr.’s free agency. “We’re going to do that until it resolves. Obviously, as the winter’s gone on, we haven’t let that prevent us from making other moves when we’ve seen opportunity to add good players that fit us and can bolster this roster. But, we love Jackie and we’ve stayed in touch with Scott on him throughout the entire winter.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora echoed this same sort of sentiment on Saturday when talking about Bradley Jr.’s current situation.

“We talk a lot, but we don’t talk baseball,” Cora said. “We don’t talk about his situation. I talk about Emerson and the baby and how they’re doing. He asks about my family, and we keep it at that. Obviously, he’s a good player. He’s a guy that can help any team at the big-league level to win ballgames. There’s more than just the manager and the player. There’s a relationship and I keep our conversations with that.”

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox free agency rumors: Jackie Bradley Jr. seeking ‘significant contract, perhaps beyond four years,’ per report

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)

Red Sox free agency: Scott Boras likens Jackie Bradley Jr. to peanut butter and jelly sandwich; ‘He’s sweet, smooth, and spreads it all over and covers it well’

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.

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez will not be opting out of final two years of contract

As had been expected, Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez will not opt out of his contract with the Red Sox this offseason, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Martinez, who just completed his third season with Boston, will instead opt in to the remaining two years and $38.75 million remaining on the five-year, $110 million deal he signed with the Red Sox prior to the start of the 2018 campaign.

Of course, the 33-year-old also has the option to test the free agency waters again if he so chooses next winter, otherwise he would earn $19.375 million in the fifth and final year of his current contract.

Like so many across the game, Martinez endured great struggles at the plate this past season, posting a dismal, overly-uncharacteristic .213/.291/.389 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 27 RBI over 54 games.

One reason the three-time Silver Slugger Award winner had such a tough time of things in 2020 was due to a lack of in-game video and video room access that came as a result of the Astros’ and Red Sox’ sign-stealing scandals as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Guys are struggling and trying to work. It’s tough when you don’t know what to work on or what to do so everyone is feeling for stuff and it’s a tough situation,” he said of the video-related restrictions back in August. “We’re only allowed to be here five hours before game time, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for guys to go in the cage and grind it out and figure it out with the hitting coach. It’s tough. I mean it’s a tough hand. We’ve got to find a way to make it work though. I told my guys anytime they know they have anything they know they can come up to me and ask me questions and stuff like that. It’s just different. I don’t have that time to go in and break down guys’ swings and look at guys’ stuff and really dive into it.”

As underwhelming as Martinez may have been this year, the South Florida native, a lifetime .290/.354/.530 hitter, is certainly a prime candidate to bounce back in 2021 as he prepares to embark on his 11th big-league season while inching closer to accruing 10 years of major-league service time.

J.D. Martinez Decides Not to Opt out of Contract With Red Sox

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez has decided NOT to opt out of the remaining three years and $62.5 million of his contract, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

The 32-year-old had until midnight eastern time Monday to make his decision, and is now locked in for at least one more year, as he also has two more opt outs remaining in his contract following the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

In his second season with Boston, Martinez slashed .304/.383/.557 to go along with 36 home runs and 105 RBI across 146 games played in 2019.

Back in September, Sox ownership came out and said that it is a goal, not a mandate, to cut down on payroll ahead of the 2020 campaign. Following Monday’s events, Martinez is expected to earn $23.75 million next year. Combine that with Mookie Betts’ projected salary of $27.7 million, and that seemingly puts Boston’s new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom in a difficult spot.

Of course, there are plenty of options available here. For starters, Martinez’s deal could be restructured to presumably do away with the opt-outs and lock in one of the best hitters in the game for the next three years. Another avenue worth exploring could be looking into trading both Betts and Martinez.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Martinez can block trades to three teams, and no adjustments to his current deal have been made to this point.

During his introductory presser last week, Bloom emphasized being both “sustainable and competitive over the long term.” If the Sox really want to avoid paying those luxury tax penalties once more next year, then they’re going to have to get really creative to do so.

With that said, it would not be much of a surprise if Bloom and Co. listen to trade offers on any player besides Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers.

There was already that report out of Arlington last week that the Texas Rangers had begun having preliminary, internal conversations about acquiring a Sox starter like Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, or even Chris Sale, so that is definitely an avenue to explore as well.

As Opt-Out Decision Looms, J.D. Martinez Is Officially on the Clock

Even though there is still one game remaining in this year’s installent of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros on Wednesday night, a former Astro in J.D. Martinez is on the clock.

Yes, the 32-year-old now has until 5 PM eastern time next Monday to decide whether or not he will opt out of the remaining three years and $62.5 million of his contract and become a free agent.

Martinez originally inked a five-year, $110 million deal with Boston back in February 2018. A deal that included built in opt-outs after the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons.

In the two seasons he has spent with the Sox to this point, the Florida native ranks second among qualified American League hitters in home runs (79), first in RBI (235), sixth in runs scored (209), and second in slugging percentage (.593).

While introducing new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on Monday, Red Sox principal owner John Henry said that he does not know what Martinez’s decision will be and that, “We’ll find out very soon.”

A client of super agent Scott Boras, Martinez may be enticed to enter free agency once again, as at 32, he may only have one last chance to earn a sizable contract in terms of both length and dollar figures.

In the following days leading into Monday evening, the Red Sox will have exclusive negotiating rights with their two-time All-Star slugger, as well as their other free agents. Martinez could reach a decision as early as 9 AM on Thursday, per MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

If Martinez were to opt out of his contract, the Sox would owe him a buyout in the form of $2.5 million. They would also more than likely extend him a qualifying offer in this scenario, which will be worth $17.8 million this offseason. That way, any club that signed Martinez would also owe Boston a compensatory draft pick, one that would fall after the fourth round of the 2020 amateur draft.

Given how Henry and chairman Tom Werner have essentially made it clear that they would like to cut down on payroll this winter, it should be interesting to see how serious the club is about bringing Martinez back if he does indeed opt out.

#RedSox and Xander Bogaerts Finalizing Seven-Year, $132 Million Contract Extension

Eight days after locking up ace left-hander Chris Sale for the next five seasons, it appears that the Red Sox have locked up another key piece who was set to hit free agency later this year in shortstop Xander Bogaerts, per WEEI’s Evan Drellich.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jeff Passan is reporting that Bogaerts’ potential contract extension with Boston will be worth $132 million over seven seasons. That averages out to approximately $18.6 million per year.

Passan also notes that the extension starts this season, presumably meaning that Bogaerts’ initial $12 million pact for 2019 will be ripped up. The deal will also include an opt-out.

A client os super agent Scott Boras, Bogaerts, 26, was set to become a free agent for the first time later this winter, but now appears to be a key member of the Red Sox infield for years to come.

Making his big league debut in 2013, the Aruba native has appeared in 762 games with Boston, tallying 75 home runs and 387 RBI over that time to go along with a career .283/.342/.429 slash line, one All-Star appearance, and two World Series titles.

Given that Opening Day was this past Thursday, I must say that I am honestly shocked this sort of deal got done at the time it did.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said at himself during the Chris Sale press conference last week.

“I think as far as negotiations are concerned I think it’s usually wise to stop on Opening Day because you don’t want to be a distraction,” Dombrowski said. “You want them focused and putting up the best numbers they can and win a championship.”

And less than two full weeks after that statement was made, the Red Sox are finalizing an extension with Xander Bogaerts as we speak.

This deal is not official yet, so I will provide more details as they come sometime tomorrow.

Per Jon Heyman, The #RedSox Are “Closing In” On a Deal for JD Martinez.

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FINALLY, something concrete! It’s just not speculation, folks, we have some legit news from the Boras Corp. spokesman himself, Mr. Jon Heyman. Both sides appear to be moving towards a deal, according to Heyman. Nothing has been finalized YET, but it looks like an agreement will be coming into fruition soon. The stare down between Dave Dombrowksi and Scott Boras lasted the entire offseason, and now it seems it is coming to a close. Just the other night, Eric Hosmer, a Boras client, inked an eight-year deal with the San Diego Padres worth approximately $144 million dollars. I pray this potential deal for JD Martinez does not look like that, hopefully we’re talking about a five-year/$100-$125 million dollar contract. I will have more on this if the signing happens tonight.

JD Martinez is Reportedly ‘Fed Up’ with the #RedSox.

Per Ken Rosenthal, free agent outfielder JD Martinez ‘has become “fed up” with the lack of flexibility on Boston’s part and may prefer playing elsewhere.’ This all came out last night, and it is not a good look on Martinez’s part. Whatever sense of entitlement he’s earned in his playing career, the 30 year-old is using all of it this offseason. Since free agency started, there were rumors that Martinez was looking for a seven-year offer worth around $200 million dollars in total. Last time I checked, the only offer Martinez has available to him right now is a five-year, $125 million dollar offer from the Red Sox.

Right before the World Series ended in November, Martinez left his old agency, RMG Baseball, for super-agent Scott Boras. If you were to look at the top free agents in baseball who have yet to sign with a club, you will notice that a majority of them are indeed Boras clients. The man is known for getting the largest and longest contracts for his clients and he is really putting that to the test this winter.

From the perspective of Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox, I do not take this as bad news. If there are no favorable offers on the table for Martinez now, why would that change as Spring Training begins? I’m not an insider, but I can’t imagine a team who plans on contending in 2018 would sign Martinez to a huge deal in March if they could have done so in January or February. Realistically, the Red Sox have been the most persistent team pursuing Martinez. There have been rumors about the Giants or Blue Jays trying to lure him, but those rumors carry less weight than the Red Sox ones do.

Evaluating the market for Martinez is not even that much of a challenge. There are not many teams out there willing to sign a 30 year-old outfielder with one of the worst gloves in baseball to a deal worth more than $200 million dollars. The fact that there’s still an offer on the table worth more than $120 million dollars is crazy. Why does it matter if there’s an extra two years on it or not? Just take it and show you are worth that deal.

Martinez may be fed up with the Red Sox, but Red Sox fans are beginning to get fed up with him.