RED SOX INSIDER

Tomase: Don't rule out JBJ from the 2021 plans for the Sox just yet

RED SOX INSIDER

The Red Sox haven't closed the door on Jackie Bradley's return.

General manager Brian O'Halloran said on Monday that the free agent center fielder remains in the team's sights as it builds for 2021.

"Jackie is definitely on our radar and we've all seen what Jackie has been able to do over the years," O'Halloran said. "Certainly a guy that, to use your terminology, we'll absolutely keep on our radar and see where it goes."

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The 30-year-old Gold Glover spent eight years in Boston, contributing to a pair of World Series titles. Notoriously streaky, he's coming off one of his more productive campaigns after hitting .283 seven homers and an .814 OPS.

Bradley looked like a goner when the season ended and free agency beckoned, but the Red Sox could have a need for him, especially if youngster Jarren Duran isn't ready to step in as an everyday center fielder. With the Red Sox unlikely to invest in All-Star George Springer, Bradley may be the next best option. What's unclear is if he wants to return to Boston or if he'd prefer to test the market and find a new home.

Bradley is a lifetime .239 hitter with 98 home runs. He has made one All-Star team and in 2018 not only won his only Gold Glove, but was also named MVP of the American League Championship Series after torching the Astros for a double, two homers, and nine RBIs in six games.

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If the Red Sox move on from Bradley, the two internal candidates to play center who are already on the roster are left fielder Andrew Benintendi and right fielder Alex Verdugo. O'Halloran said he views the former as the team's starting left fielder, but believed the latter could shift to center if needed.

 

"I think he did a really good job in right field," O'Halloran said of Verdugo. "He's a very athletic outfielder and moves around very well. I have not seen him play center field, but I believe he could do it. In terms of evaluation, this year I thought he did a terrific job offensively and defensively."