Should the Seattle Mariners Trade for Jackie Bradley Jr?


The Seattle Mariners have seemingly been connected to every available outfielder in baseball this week, and now you can add Jackie Bradley Jr.’s name to the list. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports that the Mariners have some level of interest in trading for the Boston Red Sox outfielder.

The Red Sox selected Bradley in the first round of the 2011 draft. Despite never playing above the Double-A level, Bradley broke camp with Boston 2013 following a phenomenal spring training. However, his inexperience caught up with him. The Prince George, VA product hit a meager .154 with 1 home run and 6 RBI before being sent down to the minors in early June.

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Bradley got an extended look with the Red Sox in 2014, playing 127 game and racking up 423 plate appearances. He failed to run with the opportunity, posting a .198 batting average with 1 home run, 30 RBI and 8 stolen bases.

Many had given up on Bradley in Boston, but he finally showed signs of life this past season. The 25-year-old hit .249 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI across 74 games in 2015. He registered a .335 on base percentage and slugged .498 through 255 plate appearances.

Obviously, Bradley’s offensive skill set is important, but it’s his defensive prowess that has caught people’s attention over the past three seasons. He is an superb defender, capable of making stellar grabs at all three outfield spots. Bradley’s 2.41 range factor per 9 innings blew away the league average of 2.20 in 2015. Jackie’s arm is special, exemplified by his 13 outfield assists as a center fielder in 2014.

The Sox have a surplus of outfielders, and it appears Bradley could be the odd man out. He is fresh off the best season of his young career, and it would make sense for Dave Dombrowski to sell high on the University of South Carolina alum.

Baseball Reference forecasts Bradley will regress slightly in 2016. They predict he will hit .230 with 8 home runs and 42 RBI over the course of 330 at bats. However, FanGraphs is much more optimistic. They think Jackie will hit .257 with 10 home runs and 56 RBI in 122 games.

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Boston is said to be seeking pitchers this offseason. They acquired Craig Kimbrel on Friday to serve as their closer, but there are still holes in their bullpen. A pitcher like James Paxton could also hold appeal as they look to round out their starting rotation. A quick look at their depth chart suggests first base is an area of weakness. Mark Trumbo could be player that makes sense for both parties.

I love the way Jackie Bradley Jr. covers the outfield, but I am not interested in trading away key pieces for a .213 lifetime hitter. Jerry Dipoto and company are trying to find players who can set the table for Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager. Bradley’s .290 career on base percentage suggests he would be poor fit in this role.

That being said, I am very interested in acquiring Bradley if the price is right. He is a Gold Glove caliber outfielder, and could excel hitting out of the bottom of the Mariners’ lineup. Bradley’s defensive versatility makes him an intriguing platoon option in the Emerald City.

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I would prefer to see the Mariners add a player like Brett Gardner or Gerardo Parra this winter, but Jackie Bradley Jr. could certainly help the M’s in 2016 and beyond.