Last week, Mets assistant GM John Ricco said the club had no intention to replace Juan Lagares in centerfield, and would instead like to find a left-handed complement to Lagares to form a potential platoon.
Such names as Denard Span and Gerardo Parra fit what the Mets are looking for on the free agent market, but the Mets need to also keep an open mind to filling their needs on the trade market, especially with the higher demands from players who fill their needs in free agency.
One player the Mets are exploring, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, is Red Sox OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
The 25-year-old Bradley has yet to come into his own so far in his young career, although he did show some very encouraging signs in the final two months of the 2015 season and potentially fits the Mets needs.
He’s a left-handed hitter and an outstanding outfielder, capable of playing in all three spots. He has spent most of his big league time in center field, and as was the case with Lagares in 2014, Bradley was tremendous in center.
Bradley spent half of his 2015 season with Triple-A Pawtucket, starting the year in the minor leagues before getting called up on May 10. He was then sent back down on May 19 and did not return until the end of June, where he again only spent a brief amount of time with the Red Sox before being sent back to Triple-A.
But he came up at the end of July as an injury replacement to Mookie Betts and didn’t look back over the final two months of the season.
He was with the Red Sox from July 29 through October 4, and he hit .267/.352/.539 with 17 doubles, four triples, nine home runs and 41 RBI with 23 walks and 59 strikeouts in his final 60 games of the year.
Bradley only hit .221 against right-handed pitching in 2015, but he posted a .791 OPS against the right side as the bulk of his extra-base power came against righties. He was very successful against left-handed pitching as well, hitting .306/.390/.528 in 83 plate appearances.
The question is what the price might be for someone like Bradley.
Despite the strong finish in 2015, Bradley’s stock might be down since he hasn’t figured it out as of yet. But it’s not as if the Red Sox have to deal him at the moment either.
Bradley isn’t eligible for arbitration until after the 2017 season (assuming he plays two full seasons between now and then), and the Red Sox really don’t really have an abundance of outfielders at the moment, especially of Bradley’s caliber from a defensive perspective. They have Bradley, Betts, Rusney Castillo and Brock Holt as it stands today, assuming they’re finished hoping Hanley Ramirez can play in the outfield. If anything, the Red Sox could use another bonafide outfielder to create depth and insurance.
However, Cafardo says including the Mets, the Cubs, Mariners, Royals and potentially the Nationals have at least checked in on Bradley’s availability. So that level of demand could help create an intriguing market for Bradley if Boston plays it’s cards right.
The question is, would the Mets want to roll the dice on a deal for the enigmatic Bradley, who has star potential but has struggled? Or, should they try to find more of a sure thing even though that might come with an older and more expensive player?