Cincinnati Reds: Jackie Bradley Jr. is not the answer

CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 13: Jackie Bradley Jr. #19 of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo homer to take the lead during the tenth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 13, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 13: Jackie Bradley Jr. #19 of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo homer to take the lead during the tenth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 13, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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As the Cincinnati Reds look to upgrade the center field position this offseason, one player they should steer clear of is Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr.

In a perfect world, the Cincinnati Reds front office will be able to acquire a natural centerfielder this winter that will allow the team to move Nick Senzel to second base. One option that should not garner any serious consideration is a trade for Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox.

One item that should be leaping off the Reds’ shopping list this offseason is better production from the centerfield position for the 2020 season. This past year, Cincinnati centerfielders posted a 0.2 fWAR which ranked 13th among the 15 NL clubs. Only the New York Mets and Miami Marlins were worse in the center of the diamond than the Reds.

Redleg centerfielders hit a paltry 16 homers with 52 RBIs and produced an anemic .229/.303/.394 slash line. Needless to say, if the Reds want to be playing into October next year, a major upgrade is required. However, with the team lacking any obvious candidates within the organization, the Reds must look at the trade market or free agency to find a solution.

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A name that’s been mentioned to be available is that of Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. According to numerous sources, the Red Sox are facing the unfamiliar scenario in which they are looking to slash payroll heading into next season. An obvious target to this end is Bradley Jr., who is entering his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent after the 2020 season.

Bradley Jr., who is represented by agent Scott Boras, is almost assuredly a one-year rental for any team who acquires him. According to Spotrac.com, the 29-year-old Virginia native is projected to earn $11 million next season. If you’re Cincinnati, you will need more than what Bradley Jr. can provide for the money.

Throughout his career, Jackie Bradley Jr. has provided excellent defense, however, his offensive repertoire leaves much to be desired. In parts of seven seasons in Boston, Bradley Jr. is a lifetime .236 hitter with a .317 on-base percentage.  The left-handed hitting Bradley Jr. has had only two seasons in which he’s eclipsed a 100 OPS+ with the last such season occurring in 2016.

A pairing of the Reds and Bradley Jr. is a poor match for all involved. Despite being a former Gold Glove winning outfielder, playing in Great American Ball Park negates Bradley Jr.’s greatest asset. Playing in the relatively small outfield of GABP forces Cincinnati to place a premium on offense from the centerfield position that Bradley Jr. cannot reliably provide.

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While some will endorse the potential fit between Bradley Jr. and the Reds, this is a case that should receive a hard pass from the Reds perspective. Let’s hope the front office does not repeat the mistakes of the past. A defense first centerfielder who struggles to reach base is a tired scene in the Queen City.