Jackie Bradley Jr. isn’t George Springer, but he’s available as the best remaining option on the center field free-agent market.
The Mets, in search of improved defense at the position, have continued talks in recent days with Bradley’s camp, according to multiple sources, after Springer’s decision last week to accept a six-year offer from the Blue Jays worth $150 million.
Bradley, 30, slashed .283/.364/.450 last season for the Red Sox, who remain in the mix to re-sign him, according to reports. The Astros and Giants have also been linked to Bradley, who won a Gold Glove with the Red Sox in 2018.
But Bradley is hardly an ideal fit for the Mets given that he bats left-handed and would be playing in an outfield that also includes lefty swingers Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. The Mets liked Springer in part because he would have brought a right-handed bat to the lineup. The Mets’ final offer on Springer landed in the $120 million neighborhood.
Bradley’s seven outs above average defensively ranked in the 99th percentile among major league outfielders last season, according to Baseball Savant. As much as the Mets like Nimmo’s bat and plate approach, his best fit remains as a left fielder. Most of his playing time in recent seasons has come in center field.
The Mets have already improved defensively behind the plate with James McCann’s addition on a four-year deal worth $40.6 million. Francisco Lindor, who arrived in a trade with Cleveland, brings an elite glove to shortstop. Bradley could be the missing piece to a needed defensive overhaul. The options behind Bradley on the free-agent market include Kevin Pillar and Jake Marisnick, both of whom bat right-handed and would likely be considered for a platoon in center.
Bradley’s agent is Scott Boras, who also represents Conforto. Team president Sandy Alderson has indicated a willingness to discuss a contract extension for Conforto, who can hit free agency after the season. But Boras holds a long history of pushing his agents to free agency.