The Houston Astros are reportedly showing interest in free-agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
If George Springer departs in free agency, as expected, the Houston Astros need to find a way to properly replace his production, both in the lineup and in the outfield. And it appears that general manager James Click is wasting no time exploring his options.
The Astros are expressing interest in free-agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., according to Rob Bradford of WEEI. The Red Sox and an unidentified American League Central team have also expressed interest.
Bradley, 30, makes sense for the Astros. He is not the same player as Springer, of course. His offensive game needs refinement, though his numbers in 2020 – .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI – were his best since 2016. But his defensive prowess makes him an ideal fit in center field in Houston, and he proved to be a human highlight reel in eight years in Boston. He made the All-Star team in 2016 and won a Gold Glove in 2018, with Statcast ranking Bradley in the 99th percentile for Outs Above Average.
Of course, signing a player of Bradley’s caliber will not come cheap. He is expected to command a multi-year contract in free agency and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to land a two-year, $16 million deal. With teams facing financial constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Astros might be among the teams hampered in free agency. But with Springer, Michael Brantley and others potentially coming off the books, they may have money to spend.
Bradley Jr. is likely one of many options the Astros will explore this offseason, but he is the only free agent besides Springer who projects as an above-average starting center fielder. The Astros have other needs throughout the roster, including the bullpen and rotation. But if they were to splurge on a multi-year contract, Bradley appears to be the prime candidate.