The Philadelphia Phillies really missed out by not signing now-Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in free agency this past offseason.
Through 145 plate appearances, poor at-bats from center fielders Roman Quinn, Odubel Herrera, Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley only justify that opinion further. The group of four have combined to slash just .154/.236/.246 with two home runs, 13 runs scored, and nine RBI. To put things into perspective, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielders have scored the most runs among all teams’ players at the position (49), while Texas Rangers center fielders have the most RBI (31).
The Phillies could have benefited from a proven Gold Glover in Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley Jr. did not officially sign with the Brewers until March 8 to a reported two-year, $24 million contract. Of that deal, which includes a player option after the first year, Bradley Jr. will make $13 million in 2021.
The Phillies have long said they did not want to go over the luxury tax, and signing Bradley to a $12 million average annual value would have put them over the mark. However, the team could have spent their dollars more wisely, such as opting not to sign Matt Moore and Chase Anderson to one-year deals, or even letting perennial struggling pitchers Hector Neris and Vince Velasquez walk in free agency.
Bradley Jr., who had played all of his eight career seasons with the Boston Red Sox, was coming off of a strong season — slashing .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and five stolen bases spanning 55 games.
Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski knew Bradley Jr. from his days leading the Red Sox front office, including in 2018 when the American League East team defeated the Dodgers in the World Series.
So far in 2021, the nine-year veteran is putting up somewhat favorable numbers, producing three doubles, two triples, three home runs, and six RBI spanning 31 games and 119 plate appearances, all the while slashing .182/.244/.327. Still, most of those figures would lead all Phillies center fielders, as Herrera and Moniak lead in the home run category (1), and Herrera in the RBI category (4).
It seems as though the Phillies need a big trade to acquire a center fielder and help improve a huge gap in the team’s lineup. All they needed to do was sign Bradley Jr. just more than two months ago.