1. Jackie Bradley Jr.
We’re not saying we would’ve endorsed the move. We’re simply saying that the Yankees might have had a new center field option on the table in a few weeks…if he hadn’t picked up his expensive option way ahead of time, leaving the Yanks even higher and dryer than they were when the final out was caught to end Braves-Astros.
Jackie Bradley Jr.’s two-year deal, signed with the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason, features an opt-out prior to 2022, which would rid him of a $9.5 million base salary. Now … could he beat that on the open market on a potential one-year deal today? It’s very unclear, but there’s a $6.5 million buyout attached for 2022, too.
The 31-year-old JBJ is still a defensive wizard, but posted by far the worst offensive numbers of his career in 2021, nearly nonexistent in 134 games (a .163 average!). Letting the fan favorite walk seems like even more of a Boston masterstroke than the Andrew Benintendi trade, even coming off a .283/.364/.450 55-game stretch in 2020. How does Chaim Bloom always know?
Technically, there was a chance the Yanks could grab Bradley Jr. on the cheap and use him as an effective fourth outfielder in 2022, where he can use the short porch with reckless abandon to beef up his offensive numbers a bit. Unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint, the whole argument is moot, as Jon Heyman has reported that JBJ would rather stay in place.
That means this player option has “changed the offseason” because there is now no one out there at the position other than Starling Marte or a pile of trade options.
Kevin Pillar? Crossing fingers for a Charlie Blackmon update and a shift of Joey Gallo to center/Blackmon to left? Without Bradley on the market, it’s Marte or nothing.