There has been some speculation that the Toronto Blue Jays would be inclined to take a run at signing centerfield free agent Jackie Bradley Jr to fill an area of weakness.
Going into the offseason, the Blue Jays had two areas of weakness. One is the starting rotation and the second being the centerfield position. Since the departure of Kevin Pillar at the start of the 2019 season, the team has shuffled several players through the middle outfield position, but it has been primarily stationed by Randal Grichuk or Teoscar Hernandez. Both have improved dramatically at the plate, play decently in right field, but both have left something to be desired in centerfield. Jonathan Davis is the best defensive player in the organization at that position, however has not been able to make that jump to a full-time roster player as it appears management does not trust his bat. This leaves the Blue Jays in a bit of a scramble to shore up a weakness on the team.
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While George Springer would be the ideal player to fill that position, it appears Jackie Bradley Jr fills the back-up plan. Bradley took home the Gold Glove award as the top defensive centerfielder in 2018 and is coming off his top offensive performance at the plate during the shortened 2020 season. The former first-round pick will turn 31-years old at the start of the season and I am not convinced he will be much of an upgrade on the team. Bradley had a career-best .283 batting average this past season, but it was just the second time he hit above .249 over his eight years in the major leagues and strikes out on average once per game.
While the Blue Jays do have a lot of offensive spread across the diamond, you have to believe that his time in centerfield is going to be coming to an end as his legs start to age. His stolen base percentage has already dropped off pretty dramatically as he was 48 for 54 (.89%) over his first six years and has been just 13 for 21 (62%) over his last two seasons.
MLB Trade Rumors has Bradley signing a contract in the two-year $16 Million range. If the Blue Jays were to sign him, I’d rather seen him signed for a short-term contract in the range of what fourth outfielders are paid and if that can’t happen, it would be a pass for me. While it isn’t ideal, the Blue Jays may have options in free agency that would allow Cavan Biggio to be moved to centerfield. If that option doesn’t materialize, Davis could be given a legitimate shot at being the centerfielder for a year or two until they find a good opportunity to fill the position long term.
What is your take, should the Blue Jays go after Bradley or pass on the opportunity.