Kansas City Royals: Jackie Bradley Jr. ideal candidate for centerfield

(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals could benefit greatly from the Boston Red Sox’s financial issues, who could potentially non-tender Jackie Bradley Jr.

Drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Jackie Bradley Jr. put together a very nice 2016 season in which he slashed 0.267/0.349/0.486 with 26 home runs and 87 RBI in 156 games. His batting average has dipped each season since then and he’s projected to make over $10 million in arbitration next year. The Kansas City Royals could be watching the Boston Red Sox’s moves very closely this offseason as they will be looking to shed payroll.

The team fired President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski less than 10 months after winning their third World Series in 15 years. The Red Sox had to shell out $12 million in luxury tax fees last offseason and they will need to do the same this offseason. Bradley Jr.’s slash line of 0.225/0.317/0.421 with 21 home runs and 62 RBI and 147 games was less than impressive but did well batting in the 7th spot with a 0.248/0.320/0.478 line featuring 9 doubles, 5 home runs, and 19 RBI in 32 games so perhaps that’s where he feels most comfortable.

"“Bradley Jr. posted solid offensive seasons in 2015-16 (118 OPS+), but that number has plummeted to 90 over the past three years since he became arbitration-eligible. Bradley Jr. earned $8.55 million in ’19, and with a fourth-year arbitration number that should exceed $10 million, the Red Sox, who are openly trying to reduce their payroll, could decide to go in a different direction. Alternatively, the club could find a trade partner and swap him for a player on a lower salary to achieve cost savings.” – MLB"

It’s not a big secret that the Royals have lacked production from the centerfield position as Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips had a 47 wRC+ and 34 wRC+, respectively, last season. Bradley Jr.’s 90 wRC+ in 2019 is not great but it’s certainly an upgrade and he plays fantastic defense. With the likely departure of Alex Gordon from the team this offseason, the Royals roster will need some veteran leadership to step up or step in.

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It will ultimately come down to cost and Bradley Jr. isn’t worth the $10 million in arbitration that he was projected to get from the Red Sox. However, if he and the Royals could work out a two-year deal worth $12 million with some performance incentives built in to potentially increase his AAV to $10 million, I think that would be extremely attractive for both parties.