Jackie Bradley Jr. has finally found a new home.
Bradley is signing a two-year, $24 million contract with the Brewers that includes a player option after 2021, according to a report from Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe. The now-former Red Sox outfielder will join Milwaukee’s outfield after spending the first eight years of his major-league career in Boston.
Bradley will receive $13 million in 2021 and has an $11 million player option for 2022, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. That structure would allow Bradley to test free agency again next winter if he has a good season and remain with the Brewers if he doesn’t think he’ll exceed $11 million on the open market a year from now.
Bradley, who entered the winter as the second-best free-agent outfielder behind new Blue Jay George Springer, drew interest from a handful of clubs, including the Mets, Astros, Giants, Phillies and others. Though the Red Sox vowed to stay in touch with him until he made a decision, a reunion was never likely between the sides as Boston added Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe to the outfield mix and seemed intent on keeping a spot open for top prospect Jarren Duran.
The Brewers, who will likely insert Bradley between Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich in the outfield, were a late entry into the Bradley sweepstakes, first being linked to the soon-to-be 31-year-old in late February. The move will push Avisail Garcia to a bench role.
Bradley was reportedly looking for a four- or five-year deal on the open market, so the fact he accepted a two-year deal (that is effectively a one-year contract) is a bit surprising. The structure of the contract will allow Bradley to hit free agency again in a year, if he so chooses, or return to Milwaukee for 2022 if he prefers to do so.
Bradley, who originally joined the Red Sox as a first-round pick (40th overall) in the 2011 draft, leaves Boston having won two World Series titles (2013 and 2018) an ALCS MVP award (2018) and a Gold Glove (2018) and having been named an All-Star once (2016). An inconsistent hitter who is considered one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, the Virginia native posted a .239/.321/.412 line with 98 home runs and a .732 OPS in 873 games over eight seasons, finishing with a .283 average and .814 OPS in 55 games in 2020.
In September, knowing that he was potentially playing his final games with the Red Sox, Bradley reflected on his tenure with the club.
“(The nine years) have been everything that I think a ballplayer could go through,” he said. “The ups. The downs. The great times. The difficult times. And it’s one of those things where you sit back and reflect and you become thankful. You become thankful for every trial and tribulation you went through. The struggles. And just knowing you did your best to try to stay true to yourself.
“I tried to make sure no matter how bad I felt or how angry I was at myself for not performing the way I wanted to, that I tried to treat everyone with respect,” he said. “Whether it was to the reporters or to the fans. I wanted to be better for not only them but myself as well. I put a lot of belief in myself. And that’s second to none. I’m always going to believe in myself more than anyone believes in me. I had some great times, too. Great moments. And that’s things that I will never forget.”
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