Red Sox to designate Jackie Bradley Jr. for assignment

Red Sox to appoint veteran outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. for assignment later today, reports Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe.

Boston reacquired Bradley in an offseason trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers. The trade gave the Red Sox a couple of prospects, infielders Alex Binelas Y David Hamilton, and saw the Red Sox take on the second year of Bradley’s two-year, $24MM contract in the process. Sure enough, the Sox bought a couple of minor leaguers by bringing Bradley back into the fold and footing the bill for his deal. Binelas and Hamilton rank as Boston’s No. 22 and No. 26 prospects, respectively, in Baseball America’s midseason rankings of its farm system.

Certainly, there was some reason for the Red Sox to roll the dice in a Bradley reunion, even after a terrible performance in 2021 that saw him hit just .163/.236/.261 in 428 plate appearances as a Brewer. He remained a world-class defender in the outfield, was hounded by a .226 FG rate that was 64 points shy of his career mark, and made hard contact at better-than-average rates (average exit velocity 89.7 mph, 40.3% hit rate). Of course, Bradley also hit at a career-worst 30.8% at Milwaukee, walked at a career-worst 6.5%, and appeared more regularly than ever.

Bradley did not actually hit What bad as he did in Milwaukee, but this season’s .210/.257/.321 cut wasn’t enough rebounding to keep Bradley on the list all season. He’s been 42% worse than league average with the bat, as measured by wRC+, and his defensive marks in center field have dipped a bit this season (although he’s played right field more regularly anyway). ).

25 years Jarren Duran he has taken over from the club’s usual center fielder, taking up most of the playing time there since mid-June. He hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, hitting just .232/.280/.384, but his 82+ wRC is still far ahead of Bradley’s, albeit with worse defensive numbers. It looks like the club will continue to give him a run of playing time for now to see how he fares down the stretch. Boston acquired Tommy Pham at Deadline, which likely played a role in pushing Bradley out of the corner outfield picture. Pham, Duran and Alex Verdugo it will probably be the regular rotation of the outfield, with Jaylin Davis around as depth and Henry Hernandez joining the mix once he returns from the disabled list.

As for what happens now, there’s no way the Red Sox will get a trade done since the deadline has passed. His only options with Bradley are to waiver him or let him go free. Bradley’s defense is sure to intrigue other teams, but it seems unlikely any team would claim him given his poor offensive performance and his contract status. He is earning a salary of $9.5MM this year, leaving just over $3MM still to be paid. There is also a $12 million mutual option for 2023 with a total buyout of $8 million. Any team that makes a claim would be hard-pressed for that money. Even the clubs most interested in Bradley will probably just wait for him to clear waivers, at which point he could elect free agency and be signed for the league’s prorated minimum with the Red Sox on the hook for the rest.

In the short term, the trade certainly looks like a bust for the Red Sox, as Renfroe is having a solid season for the Brewers. He’s hit 19 home runs and is slashing .246/.299/.508 for a 120 wRC+. However, the long-term evaluation of the deal will depend on the future development of Binelas and Hamilton.

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