Phillies among favorites to sign Jackie Bradley Jr.
By Matt Rappa
The Phillies are considered among the favorites to sign Jackie Bradley Jr.
So far, the Philadelphia Phillies have largely been absent from player rumors this offseason, outside of their own — J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius, and others — entering free agency.
Friday afternoon, MLB Network’s Keith Costas discussed the possible destination of one key free-agent center fielder — a position in which the Phillies could be willing to upgrade, rather than commit full-time innings to Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, or even Odubel Herrera in 2021.
Behind the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros, MLB Network lists the Phillies as the third-most likely to sign one-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and World Series champion, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Costas speculates that the designated hitter possibly being a permanent fixture across both the American and National leagues could factor into where Bradley Jr. lands. “Maybe teams could afford to play a more defensive-oriented player,” he says, “if they know they’re going to have that designated hitter in the lineup for some more pop.”
Even yet, Bradley Jr. still had his best offensive season since 2016; spanning 55 games and 217 plate appearances, the eight-year veteran slashed .283/.364/.450 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 22 RBI, 23 walks, and 48 strikeouts.
Costas says that along with the Astros — who would need to replace George Springer if he leaves in free agency — the Phillies could also use Bradley Jr., as they had one of the worst outfield defenses in the majors with just eight outs above average in 2020.
“There’s plenty of smoke connecting both the Astros and the Phillies to interest in [Bradley Jr.],” says Costas.
When asked as to whether the Phillies would be willing to spend for Bradley Jr. rather than prioritize their pitching woes, Costas noted that he does not think his contract would be “big money” and that he would help the pitching staff with his defense.
This past season, Bradley Jr. fielded a perfect 471 innings for the Red Sox in center field, committing no errors across 123 chances. The 30-year-old has been linked to the Phillies through trade rumors in recent seasons, most recently when the team was negotiating with the Red Sox that ultimately yielded the Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree acquisitions.
Perhaps now that the 2018 ALCS MVP is a free-agent, he and the Phils will finally ink a deal.