The Philadelphia Phillies have expressed interest in free-agent centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported on Tuesday morning.
Amongst the team’s laundry list of needs this offseason — which includes starting-pitching depth, a bullpen overhaul, and deciding what to do behind the plate — is the centerfield spot that is currently slated to feature Roman Quinn backed up by Adam Haseley and Scott Kingery.
Quinn slashed just .213/.261/.576 in 108 at-bats for the Phillies last season, further exposing their need of help up the middle.
Bradley, 30, is coming off his best season in four years — albeit a shortened one — as he slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 55 games with the Boston Red Sox. His .814 OPS was his highest since 2016, adding an offensive element to a resume that has largely been predicated on his defense.
He is widely considered the second-best centerfielder available on the free-agent market this offseason behind George Springer, who has been heavily linked with the NL East division-rival New York Mets.
An interest in Bradley suggests that the Phillies aren’t necessarily toying with the idea of a pseudo-firesale, which looked to be in the cards just a few weeks ago.
After losing $145 million due to the pandemic, it was all but confirmed that the team couldn’t afford to bring back All-Star catcher JT Realmuto while rumors leaked out that they were trying to trade away Zack Wheeler — the No. 2 starter behind Aaron Nola who they just gave a five-year, $118 million contract to before the start of the 2020 season.
But the hiring of Dave Dombrowski suggests that the Phillies will be at least attempting to open their checkbooks this offseason. The veteran front-office executive who previously worked with the Detroit Tigers and Red Sox is known to have a “win-now” mindset and at his introductory press conference, admitted that there is a “flexibility in finances.”
“But when I say that, I don’t think it’s an unlimited amount of funds,” he added. “You always realize there’s some type of budget attached to that. We will work within that. But we’re also more — we want to win this year.”
For now, the consensus is that Bradley could be had for a considerably smaller price than a Springer, who is justly slated to make around $20 million annually. According to Fangraphs’ crowdsourcing, the median parameters of Bradley’s next contract will come in at around two years, $20 million, carrying an average annual value of $10 million per season.
Other teams involved, per Morosi, include the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs.