After estimated arbitration salaries, the Boston Red Sox sit at approximately $218.7 million, or roughly $10.7 million above the Collective Bargaining Tax threshold.
As a result, the team is looking to cut salary and Jackie Bradley Jr., who is estimated to make $11 million in 2020, has found himself amid the trade rumors yet again.
Bradley slashed .225/.317/.421 with 21 home runs and 90 wRC+ in 2019, and defensively he wasn’t quite the same wizard he has been in years past, totaling just six outs above average one year after winning the Gold Glove for center fielders with 12 outs above average in 2018.
Unlike in years past, this time seems far more serious. The Boston Red Sox will be looking to unload salary in an attempt to retain Mookie Betts, without having to shop the likes of Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote “A trade of center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., projected to earn $11 million in his final year before free agency, seems all but certain.”
At the end of the day, what you see is what you get with Jackie Bradley. And that is a below-average MLB hitter who has lost a step in the outfield. While he still is above-average in the outfield and still has a cannon for an arm, that doesn’t equate to the $11 million he’s estimated to make in 2020.
Expect this to be similar to the trade that sent Clay Buchholz to the Philadelphia Phillies back in the offseason between 2016 and 2017. The Red Sox will likely get a low or mid-level prospect with a low ceiling, but by cutting salary, it’s addition by subtraction.