We’ve known for some time that this was going to be a fascinating offseason and one that could go in a number of different directions. Dave Dombrowski has a lot of ways he can take this roster to the next level, with some including simply adding a few pieces. The others, however, would involve moving a core piece or two to add impact players while making room for new additions. For example, if the Red Sox are to acquire an outfielder and a first baseman, it would seem almost certain that Boston would offload one member of their thrilling Killer B’s outfield. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi seem as close to untouchable as one can be, which leaves Jackie Bradley Jr. as the lone man standing. The San Francisco Giants seem to be aware of all of this, and according to a report by MLB Network and FOX Sport’s Jon Morosi, they are interested in the Red Sox center fielder.
This is a new rumor that sort of came out of nowhere, though it certainly makes sense from the Giants perspective. This is a team that is coming off perhaps the most disappointing season of any team in baseball and enters this offseason searching for outfield help. They, like the Red Sox, have been connected to Giancarlo Stanton, but Bradley appears to be at least a backup plan for them. Any team looking for an outfielder should be interested in Bradley, who is elite defensively, provides plenty of upside at the plate and is under team control through 2020.
The question, of course, becomes what the Giants could offer the Red Sox to make this worth in. Presumably, Boston would want major-league talent in return. Taking a gander at San Francisco’s roster, the player who likely makes the most sense would be Brandon Belt. He’s a fantastic hitting first baseman whose power would theoretically flourish outside of San Francisco’s hellish park for hitters and he’s under control through 2021. It’s not a perfect match, though, as Belt is guaranteed $17.2 million per year over the next four years and doesn’t have the same kind of two-way upside as Bradley. The Giants wouldn’t have to add a blue chip prospect or anything along those lines, but they’d probably have to give up a bit more. Perhaps the Red Sox could also look into taking a chance on Will Smith, a left-handed reliever who has had a ton of success in the past but is coming off Tommy John surgery. Joe Panik could also be an option, though it would be odd trading Bradley for a player that would be left without an everyday role upon Dustin Pedroia’s return.
Perhaps Boston wouldn’t want major-league talent in return, though. It’s possible that they could view a Bradley trade as an opportunity to boost a farm system that has been thinned by other Dombrowski deals as well as the tragic passing of Daniel Flores. They could also ask for prospects that would then be turned around and sent elsewhere in a separate deal (or three-way trade). San Francisco doesn’t have a great farm system, but it has some interesting players. Guys like Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede could make sense as players who are right on the cusp of the majors.
All of this is highly speculative and certainly just in the beginning stages. As Morosi points out in a later tweet, it’s not even clear at this moment just how likely it is that Bradley is moved in the first place. Still, a couple things are clear at this point. First, the Red Sox won’t have much trouble finding interested suitors if they do decide to put Bradley on the block. Second, this has the potential to be a wild offseason in Boston.