Reports have surfaced regarding the Cincinnati Reds interest in Jackie Bradley Jr. Adding the outfielder does not represent an upgrade to center field.
Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer recently reported that the Cincinnati Reds had discussions about acquiring outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. from the Boston Red Sox last season. Though not a free agent, Bradley Jr. is a legitimate candidate the Reds could pursue via a trade to take over in center field. However, adding Bradley Jr. is not an upgrade over Nick Senzel.
The thought is, heading into next season, the Reds may look to move Senzel back to his natural spot in the infield and supplant him in the outfield with a more traditional center fielder. Senzel was inserted as the team’s starting centerfielder in May of last year after spending his entire professional career in the infield.
The experiment was not a total failure, but Senzel put up modest offensive numbers in his rookie season and, on a few occasions, seemed out of place defensively. With Scooter Gennett no longer a part of the organization and second base unclaimed heading into the offseason, Senzel could conceivably take over where many thought he belonged in the first place.
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So, with Senzel possibly vacating center field, that leaves a glaring hole in the Cincinnati Reds outfield. No one on the roster seems like a great fit and not many free agent options seem appealing unless the Pittsburgh Pirates refuse to pick up Starling Marte‘s team option.
With that comes the prospect of a trade in order to upgrade the position. There are a few candidates that make sense and Nightengale’s recent report suggests Bradley Jr. may be one of them. That doesn’t seem like a smart move. In fact, keeping Senzel in center field seems like a better option.
Bradley Jr. is a solid player. The 29-year-old hit 21 home runs last season and drove in 62 runs. However, his last three seasons in Boston have seen Bradley Jr. slash .234/.318/.409 with an OPS+ of just 90. Given that Bradley Jr. is in his final year of arbitration and predicted by MLB Trade Rumors to make $11M in 2020, he’s not worth the investment.
The Red Sox are looking to rid themselves of salary obligations, and shedding $11M off next year’s payroll would certainly help. But the Reds should steer of a deal for Bradley Jr. Though he has a Gold Glove to his credit, last season, Bradley Jr. was worth -1 defensive runs saved for the Red Sox, which is the same as Senzel who was playing out of position.
I’m all for the Cincinnati Reds moving Senzel back to the infield and looking to upgrade center field, but Bradley Jr. is not the answer. The Reds would do better to pursue Starling Marte (in free agency or via a trade), Ender Inciarte, or break the bank and go get Ketel Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks.