Jackie Bradley Jr. is consistently the least consistent offensive player on the Boston Red Sox. His streaks are such of legends, running hotter than a gas stove left on all afternoon before seemingly dropping into the Mariana Trench for months at a time.
Bradley is one of the best defenders in baseball – that is indisputable – but he just does not hit enough. Throughout his entire Gold Glove career, he has never once had more hits in a season than games played. He is exactly at the replacement level in terms of OPS+, with a total of 100 through 794 games over the course of his career.
Looking at just this season, he has hit under .200 in three out of five months. During his one scorching month, June, he hit .315/.419/.573 with five bombs and 14 RBI. Otherwise, he had an OPS under .700 in both March/April and July. He is like a light-switch on offense, either up or down, never in the middle. Even his “hot” month this season was not a world-beater type of performance.
That all being said, where is his value if he is so lack-luster at the plate? Well, he is a premium defender at a vital position in center field. He can also throw the ball 103 mph when needed. He would also be a rental for next season, hitting free agency in 2020.
The Red Sox can let Bradley walk after next season and get nothing in return for him, or they can be proactive and move him to help re-stock an ailing farm system that has just one top-100 prospect. To help replace him, they can pursue one of the many right fielders hitting the free agent market this off-season and shift Mookie Betts to center.
Betts is on the short list for the best defender in baseball, and he plays right field. He can also slide over to center field. The reigning American League MVP has appeared in 191 career games in center with a .990 fielding percentage – just marginally worse than his production in right field.
The current outfielder market this off-season includes Marcell Ozuna, Nick Castellanos and Yasiel Puig. Depending on club options, Kole Calhoun and Nick Markakis may also be available. All these players would be an upgrade over Bradley Jr. offensively.
These players are not exactly defensive liabilities, either. Ozuna won a Gold Glove just two seasons ago in 2017 with the Miami Marlins and Markakis won in 2018 with his current club, the Atlanta Braves. Yasiel Puig has one of the most electric arms in baseball and Kole Calhoun can make plays like these.
Now, where could Boston send him? Look no further than the team with the most fervent trader in the league, the Seattle Mariners. Not only do they have Jerry Dipoto at the helm of their front office, they also have the worst defense in the league. They have committed 104 errors thus far this season through 139 games. Their center fielder right now, Keon Broxton, is on his third team this season.
The Mariners also own the eighth best farm system in baseball, according to FanGraphs, so they have assets to burn.
There are many people out there calling for the Red Sox to trade Mookie Betts this off-season, but I disagree. He is too valuable a piece and if they trade him, they are essentially telling the rest of the team they are quitting on this current roster. Moving Bradley signals they are not going to take poor performance, not even for his scorching months.
Knowing Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox president of baseball operations, he’ll refuse to build a bullpen until the sun swallows the Earth in billions of years. So this team needs as much offense as they can get.
There is also a lot of money coming off the books in Boston after this season, with the departure of Rick Porcello, Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce’s contracts. That opens them up for more freedom when it comes to free agent offers over the winter.
Honestly, as a fan of this team I am tired of seeing Bradley strike out every game. I am tired of seeing him do nothing when he comes up with runners in scoring position. It’s time for them to move on and take another route.
Dave, just do us all a favor and move him for prospects while you still can. Bradley is too streaky to be a fixture in this lineup.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com