At the present time, the Cubs have just two outfielders on their 40-man roster: Ian Happ and Jason Heyward.
That brought this comment from President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer in a recent talk with reporters:
“We need three?” Hoyer quipped in a Zoom call on Thursday. “Certainly, we’re aware of our numbers. I think that’s something that we’ve certainly prioritized.”
Yep. Three outfielders are needed in a baseball game, otherwise the other two would be running a long way after fly balls.
The Cubs cut ties with Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. at the non-tender deadline, and it seems unlikely either will be back. There’s no outfielder in the Cubs minor-league system who’s really ready for the majors now (Brennen Davis, probably the best one, is a year away, at least), so this is interesting news:
Free agent Jackie Bradley Jr. is drawing interest from the Phillies, Cubs, and Blue Jays, among other teams, as I mentioned this morning on @MLBNetwork. Bradley, 30, is coming off a season in which he posted a 118 OPS+, his best since 2016. @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 15, 2020
It should be noted that Hoyer ought to be quite familiar with Jackie Bradley Jr., as he was a Red Sox executive when Bradley was drafted in the first round (40th overall) by the Red Sox in 2011. Of course, Hoyer left Boston for the Cubs after that season, but he’s surely followed Bradley’s mostly-successful career with the Red Sox.
Bradley is a good center fielder with modest speed numbers (career high 17 stolen bases in 2018), more power than Almora, but with a BA and OBP similar to Almora’s. He’d be a good fit with the Cubs — just don’t lead him off! Bradley’s skillset seems more suited to the No. 8 spot in the lineup.
In 2020, Bradley hit .283/.364/.450 (54-for-191) with seven home runs. The BA and OBP were career highs and the SLG was third-best. The caveat, of course, is that those numbers were posted in just a bit more than one-third of a normal season, and we don’t know if that’s sustainable over a full year. Also, over the course of his career he’s hit RHP (.752 OPS) much better than lefthanders (.685 OPS) but in 2020 he posted a .900 OPS vs. LHP, though in a small sample size (69 plate appearances). He might need to sit vs. some tough lefties. Perhaps Nico Hoerner could play some center field in 2021 to back him up.
Bradley would be a short-term fix until (presumably) Davis would be ready to go in 2022 or 2023. He was scheduled to make $11 million in 2020 before pandemic pro-ration. The fact that other teams are interested, per Morosi, might make for some sort of bidding war for Bradley’s services.
Two years, $20 million. Who says no?
The Cubs should sign Jackie Bradley Jr...
This poll is closed
... for two years, $20 million
... for fewer years and less money
... for more years and more money
... they shouldn’t sign him at all
Something else (leave in comments)