One thing the Milwaukee Brewers never have a problem doing is acquiring outfield depth. Now sources say that they are in the mix for outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Sources: Brewers in the mix for free-agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) February 22, 2021
The 30 year old signed a one-year, $11MM last season with the Boston Red Sox. Bradley Jr. has spent all eight seasons of his MLB career in Boston.
It had appeared the Brewers were all set this year for the outfield, but Milwaukee and David Stearns is always interested in additional depth if it’s a player they truly want.
Current Brewers Outfield
Right now, the starting outfield is Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Avisail Garcia. Billy McKinney was signed in the off-season and the Crew just traded with the Toronto Blue Jays to get Derek Fisher. It doesn’t appear either have minor league options. You also have players like Tyrone Taylor and Corey Ray, who should be big league ready. They chose to not re-sign Ben Gamel as well, who recently signed with the Cleveland Indians.
A signing and interest in Bradley Jr. might also dash any hopes of a possible Ryan Braun return for at least the first part of the season. Unless parks are at full capacity or the DH returns to the National League, expect Braun to wait it out. If Bradley would sign, also bringing back Braun could cause some potential line up and roster issues.
Depth is Good
Having depth at outfielder has worked out nicely for the Brewers the past few seasons. When the team signed Garcia last year, people wondered why they were paying another outfield $10MM a year to possibly sit on their bench. Turns out they really needed him. Lorenzo Cain opted out, and Braun dealt with injuries over the entire shortened season. Players like Ben Gamel, Mark Mathias and Tyrone Taylor all had plenty of at-bats during the 2020 season.
Bradley Jr. is career .239 hitter with a .239/.321/421 batting line. He is a fantastic defender in the outfielder and solid baserunner. You could compare him to being a Lorenzo Cain-type. But you already have Cain, so his advantage would be is that he is a few years younger than the current Brewers center fielder. But if for some reason injuries happen again or Cain/Garcia have another disappointing season, Bradley Jr. is a great player to have in your line-up.
Two things could hold Bradley Jr. from Milwaukee: His agent and contract length.
Scott Boras is Jackie’s agent, which means any chance of a team-friendly contract is basically out the window. If that were possible, he would have re-signed with Boston a while ago.
It also appears that Boras and Bradley Jr. are looking for a possible four year contract. That might not be something Milwaukee is willing to do. Yelich is locked up until at least 2028, but you have Cain for two more seasons at 17 million plus. And in a blink of an eye, players like Keston Huira, Brandon Woodruff, Devin Williams, Brent Suter and maybe Josh Hader will need or expect extensions signed.
Would the team be able to give up $10MM a year or more for Bradley? For a former All-Star and 2018 AL Gold Glove winner it’s not a terrible bet.
If Bradley Signs
If Bradley Jr. is signed, what happens in the outfield? Does Garcia compete with him in Spring Training for a starting spot? Does that put Lorenzo Cain or Garcia on the trading block instantly? It definitely turns some heads when you sign a big-name free agent.
Having an outfield of Yelich, Cain, Bradly Jr. and Garcia would be fantastic and depth is good. But with four players in your outfield getting half your team salary the next few years, would that handcuff the Brewers from signing their younger star players?
Winning now is of course important with a wide open NL Central Division for the taking, however you also need to make sure you have a chance of winning the entire time Christian Yelich is a Milwaukee Brewer.