Major League Baseball’s winter meetings are underway in Orlando, and few players are garnering as much attention as former South Carolina Gamecocks star Jackie Bradley Jr.
The 27-year-old Bradley has established himself as solid outfielder the past two seasons with the Boston Red Sox. But Bradley’s name has been involved in a number of trade rumors since the Red Sox season ended in the American League Division Series.
That’s partially because Bradley is a quality outfielder, who is a plus defender in center field, and a dangerous – if inconsistent – threat with the bat in his hands. It’s also because he’s eligible for free agency following the 2020 season.
It’s unlikely that Boston can retain Bradley alongside Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, who will also be free agents in the next few seasons. Moving Bradley could help the Red Sox extend their competitive window beyond the next few seasons.
But that isn’t happening this offseason, at least that’s what Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is saying.
“I don’t know where those (Bradley trade) rumors started, but they’re not accurate,” Dombrowski told reporters Monday at the winter meetings. “I can say we have interest in our players and people have asked about our players, often. But I would say we’re very happy with our outfield.”
Dombrowski, who is known for making splashy, headline-grabbing moves gave himself an out, just in case he gets an offer for the former Gamecock that is too good to refuse.
“Could we do anything? I can’t say we can’t do anything with any of our players,” Dombrowski said. “But we like our outfield.”
In spite of Dombrowski’s vehement denial, several baseball insiders are saying Bradley is on the trade block.
The main reason Boston would include Bradley in a trade would be to avoid gutting an already depleted farm system, that has produced several quality big leaguers currently playing for the Red Sox, or others who have been used to acquire big-name players from other teams in the past two seasons.
Hypothetically, the combination of Bradley and a minor league blue chip player or two could bring the Red Sox the power hitter that they lacked in the middle of their lineup last season. Boston might have thought Bradley could supply that thump after his performance in 2016.
In his breakout season, Bradley hit .267 with 26 home runs and 87 RBIs. He earned an All-Star Game appearance.
But in 2017, his numbers dropped. Bradley hit .245 with 17 homers and 63 RBIs.
Bradley Jr. helped the Gamecocks win back-to-back national titles in 2010 and 2011 and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the 2010 College World Series.