Last offseason the Cincinnati Reds reportedly show interest in Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer first noted this over the weekend in his run down of options the team could look at in free agency or possible trades.

Jackie Bradley Jr has one year remaining before he’s a free agent. He is entering his final year of arbitration and is projected to get $11M according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Things have changed a little bit since the pre-2019 season and the pre-2020 season. Sort of. The Reds weren’t exactly sure if Nick Senzel could handle center field last offseason. This year they know that he can. There’s also the fact that there’s one less year remaining before free agency for Jackie Bradley Jr. and that may be a factor. On the flip side, it may be a positive factor as it should mean it would require less to acquire him if the team were still interested. With regards to the Red Sox – they are trying to cut payroll, so a deal that would save them some money makes sense.

So that begs the question: Are, or should the Reds still be interested? When looking at the 2019 Cincinnati Reds and trying to find where they need to improve, the biggest area of need is offense. The Reds weren’t very good in this area. Some of that may be due to injuries – Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel both missed decent chunks of time and should be back in 2020 ready to go. But the team is still likely to need a middle infielder – perhaps two depending on what they plan to do with Freddy Galvis and his option.

Jackie Bradley Jr. isn’t exactly an offensive thread. After hitting very well in 2015 and 2016 – .263/.345/.489, good for a 118 OPS+ – he’s dropped off the last three years, hitting just .234/.318/.409. That’s just a 90 OPS+, which is well below-average. He’ll be 30-years-old next year, so expecting a breakout would probably be a bad plan. But, he’s not a terrible hitter – he’s just not exactly a solid one these days, either. Sort of.

Bradley Jr. is a left-handed hitter. And he really struggles to hit lefties. Over the last two seasons he’s posted a .201/.286/.322 line against left-handed pitching. But against right-handed pitchers he’s hit .241/.328/.450. While you’d like to see a few more hits in there, that’s a solid on-base percentage for a center fielder, and that’s good power for one. And it would be foolish to not mention that starting next season the LOOGY will be gone, leaving fewer chances for opposing managers to try and match up a guy like Bradley Jr. against a left-handed reliever.

Given that Nick Senzel can absolutely play second base, the fact that he’s currently a center fielder doesn’t matter too much. The flexability here could make for a platoon in center field where a guy like Jackie Bradley Jr. starts there against right-handed pitching, with Senzel sliding to second base. But when a left-handed starter is on the mound, Senzel slides to center and someone else fills in at second. This could also happen later in games when a lefty reliever happens to be on the mound and you would prefer to pinch hit for Bradley Jr. instead of having him face a same-handed pitcher.

Defensively, Jackie Bradley Jr. is regarded as a good defender. Both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference rate his defense as above-average in their versions of WAR. Baseball Savant had him at +6 runs above-average this past season. He was at +12 the year before.

Defense wasn’t exactly one of the weaknesses of the 2019 Reds. But their outfield defense didn’t exactly stand out, either. Adding Jackie Bradley Jr. would certainly help move it in the right direction. Offensively, if used against right-handed pitching he’d probably help improve the offense a little bit. The Reds need to move that needle a lot, though. Especially if they want to compete for a playoff spot. This could be a move in the right direction, but they’d need to still be on the lookout for several other pieces – big, difference maker types of moves.

Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavila III. Photo was slightly altered. Licensing can be found here.

31 Responses

  1. greenmtred

    Sounds like a bad idea. He doesn’t add enough offensively to be worth the money.

  2. JoshG

    Wouldn’t be an improvement over anyone

  3. Ghettotrout1

    I’d rather have Ender Inciarte, if the price is similar in prospects.

  4. CFD3000

    I would prefer to see Senzel in center and JVM at second, with a huge focus on upgrading shortstop. Seager? Gregorius? But I understand that the offense could be upgraded by moving Senzel to second and acquiring a stud center fielder. But those guys have names like Betts. Or Trout (hah!). Jackie Bradley Jr. would be the trade equivalent of that deck chairs / Titanic deal. Please. No.

    • Stock

      Agree. Don’t see Senzel/Bradley as an upgrade to VanMeter/Senzel.

      I would love to bring Scooter back for a year. I think he would love the chance to sign for a year and get the contract he feels he should have signed for this winter.

  5. Sam

    Why do things to accommodate Senzel? He hasn’t shown the offense or durability to merit building this team around. As for JBJ, he’s not an upgrade offensively and way too expensive for one year.

    • Stock

      Agree. Why pay $10 million when the ceiling for Bradley is an additional 1 win over VanMeter. Plus you have to give up a prospect.

  6. RedNat

    I am not convinced Senzel can be the everyday guy in centerfield yet. he has the tools but i don’t know. I can’t put my finger on why I am not sold on him yet.

    • TR

      I’m also not sure Senzel is cutout to be the Reds regular centerfielder. I think his natural position is in the infield, and that would mean no wall and less wear and tear.

      • Davd

        He had a partial tear in his labrum at the end of the season.

        I would not count on Nick Senzel for anything next year. His career may be over. That is a serious injury. A complete tear in his left shoulder labrum (then surgically repaired) effectively ended Devin Mesoraco’s career

  7. Scott C

    This would really be dependent on what else the Reds do. Upgrading Shortstop and catcher should be the priority. If those two things are done and we could get Bradley for a couple of midlevel prospects or even one of VanMeter, Winker or Ervin then yeah it would strengthen the overall lineup. If not then it is meh.

  8. Mark

    I’m actually not that impressed with Senzel’s hitting ability, his numbers last year were like meh?? You want Mookie Betts Cincinnati Reds well then put Senzel in the Deal and sign Gregorius for SS and Grandal for C and go with whomever at 2b ( Galvis maybe) and now offensively we are talking.

    • greenmtred

      Yeah. Senzel and–probably–one of the good starting pitchers to get Betts. It’d be great to have him, but the price might mean a step back for the Reds.

  9. Phil

    1) Given his limitations, how much he’ll be making, and that the Red Sox are looking to cut payroll I would think the prospect cost for acquiring JBJ would not be high.

    2) In 2019 Jesse Winker played 21 games in center field for the Reds. This tells me there aren’t many in the organization that are trusted to play there defensively.

    3) Senzel’s defensive versatility allows bringing in a center fielder to make some sense as outlined in the article.

    Center is split between Senzel and JBJ.
    Second base is shared between Senzel and VanMeter
    Target Gregorious and Grandal in free agency for SS and catcher.

  10. Tom Mitsoff

    The Reds don’t need another below-average-hitting centerfielder. But maybe the Reds would consider something like they did last year in helping the Dodgers with their payroll issues. Maybe tell the Red Sox we’d take David Price’s remaining three years and $96 million off their hands if they would be willing to trade Andrew Benintendi (three years of team control remaining). Price would be another Vanderbilt alum reunited with Derek Johnson.

    • Big Ed

      I made that same suggestion a couple of weeks ago. The Red Sox need to clear money to offer to Betts and to Rafael Devers.

      They already have Price ($32 million), Chris Sale ($29 million AAV), Xander Bogaerts $20 million), (Nathan Eovaldi ($17 million) plus J.D. Martinez is at $21 AAV million if he does not opt out. I think they are stuck with Pedroia’s contract for $25 million total over the next two years. They have to come up with $22 million or so for Betts next year, plus they will owe Eduardo Rodriguez in arbitration, and Devers and Benintendi appear to be first-year arbitration-eligible. Then they gotta sign 15 other guys.

      It would be a complicated deal to get both Price and Benintendi, but it is plausible. A lot would depend on Derek Johnson’s assessment of Price, who seems to be a bad match for the Red Sox. I doubt that the Reds would have to give up a lot. They may have an interest in Tucker Barnhart as a defensive upgrade, as well as a bullpen arm, etc.

      I think that they may non-tender Bradley, who would become an option at a lower price for Cincinnati. If he isn’t worth $10 million for the Reds, then he isn’t worth it to the Red Sox, either.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        Payroll trimming is a high priority for Boston. If they could get rid of Price, they could probably try to sign Mookie Betts to an extension. If you look at it from the perspective of allowing Boston a chance to keep Betts, it won’t take a whole lot from the Reds to get it done. From Boston’s perspective, Betts signed to an extension > Price + Benintendi. From Cincinnati’s perspective, they have to get something of value for taking on such a salary, and that would be Benintendi.

    • Scott C

      Bold Move Tom. But I think it is something Reds could do if and here is the big if, they don’t have to give up too much. Benintendi would be a great addition and draw for Reds and Price might find his way back under DJ. Possibly offering one of Mahle or Disco along with a couple of lesser prospects.

    • Michael E

      Right with ya Tom, I posted later (bottom), but JBJ is barely a tier above awful. Hoping this rumor has NO BASIS, because if it does, our optimism about the Reds FO will take a big hit again.

      I’d rather they roll out any CF prospect they got than waste a penny on JBJ. I can’t see a Mike Siani being any worse and infinitely cheaper.

      JBJ is a slightly more polished version of Billy Hamilton, a better hitter, not as good a fielder and not as fast.

    • Michael E

      Exactly, it better come with a perk or only if we send them prospect #29 that no one even knows anything about. If they trade something of value for such a proven mediocre player, I won’t be a happy camper.

      He doesn’t move the needle and worse, he takes CF and keeps us from improving at that position. It’s Billy Hamilton 2.0. Heck, they’d probably “fall in love” with Bradley, sign him to extension and gum up CF for the next 5 years.

      I hope the Reds FO actually aims HIGH, unlike this scary rumor of aiming for the mendoza lines at multiple positions…AGAIN.

    • Michael E

      Oops, I didn’t read thoroughly. I was responding to JBJ needing a perk with him since he is not a good hitter. The Price/Benintindi is interesting, but it would stop any chance at signing FAs again for a few years. Not that the Reds would sign an actual impactful FA. They’ll more likely sign two mediocre ones.

      I would not include Aquino. If they did that would garner terrific amounts of hate mail to the FO. He may never reach the heights he teased us with this summer, but at least Aquino has done something big at the MLB level, unlike most of our other top 10 prospects.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      If they get Benintendi, they don’t have to sign an outfielder for two or three years. He plays centerfield (I must admit I don’t know how well), so that could move Senzel to second base. Getting bats is clearly the priority for the Reds, and Benintendi is coming off an off-year offensively with clearly a lot of upside and three more years of team control. It would be huge gamble for the Reds hoping that Price and Benintendi can recapture past form, and because both are coming off off-seasons, the Red Sox would presumably listen to offers.

      But you might be right, BK. Maybe Benintendi isn’t enough.

  11. Optimist

    This sort of seems like a more expensive version of the Dietrich/Iglesias/Galvis/etc. 1 yr. pickups, which is fine, in a minor way, so long as it is the 3rd or 4th most important move they make. Slight improvements are vital for teams already fighting for playoff position, but the Reds aren’t one of those, yet. Still, for the right price, sure . . .

    • Anthony

      Just pick up gavis option trade India for tommy pham but extend his contract 2yrs 1st trade Aquino and Alf rod for kietal marte that solves outfield problem and we get a lot more obp and better defense then you can move senzel to second

  12. David

    Not really interested in getting Bradley, Price, Didi, or Puig.
    We’ve seen Puig.
    Bradley has peaked (early) and is going downhill offensively.
    Didi doesn’t really offer more than Galvis, does he? Is he better defensively?
    Price is also an old pitcher. He may regress a lot and very soon.

    Grandal would be interesting if the price is right, but he just had a “peak” career year, and will not likely ever have a year like that again.

    A 31 year old catcher. Is that wise?

  13. Michael E

    Hoping this was just a joke post, otherwise I am worried about Pete. JBJ isn’t worth two powered donuts. I’d trade unknown prospect #28 for him, but that’s about it.

  14. Michael E

    JBJ’s are a dime a dozen. Mediocre hitter, good, not great fielder. If we’re going to downgrade to JBJ, why not just bring back Billy Hamilton and suffer via an even cheaper method?

    I hope this JBJ rumor is a joke as well. Seriously, this not only doesn’t move the needle, it takes away a position to try and improve and throws in the towel. I’d rather they just run out Irvin or heck, even better, Mike Siani. He’d probably hit a ticket better and is already a better fielder than JBJ.

    JBJ doesn’t completely stink, but he isn’t any good either. Why waste any asset on him and why have him block someone that could actually hit while playing CF?

    • Michael E

      I guess my thought is, have we REALLY sunk this low that we see JBJ as an upgrade in some way? I know B-ham stunk in the worst way and was one of the worst hitters of decade, but man, surely we at least LEARNED about what it means to to just give up an easy out a couple of times through the lineup.

      Just say no to JBJ unless a stud comes attached with him or we three-way trade and dump him on another no-hit-CF-loving team.

  15. Vancouver Dave

    Never trade for a Rockies hitter. I typed that without even looking up his home/road splits. . . Which I just did. Surprise! They’re about what I expected. He hit .260/.322/.445 in 2019 on the road. Those are pretty good numbers for a SS, true, and it would undoubtedly be an upgrade for the good guys. But there’s no way the price would be a fair reflection of his true value. It would be much higher. Never trade for a Rockies hitter.

  16. Big Ed

    The Price-Benintendi proposal covers your first 5 points.