Astros Rumors: Jackie Bradley Jr. to take his time in free agency?

The Houston Astros are interested in Jackie Bradley Jr., but the free-agent outfielder intends to take his time finding his new home.

Free-agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is taking a “measured” and “patient” approach this offseason, he told Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe.

Bradley Jr., of course, is of interest to the Houston Astros. The team is in desperate need of outfield help across the board, especially in center field with George Springer one step out the door, and Bradley Jr. is the top option to replace him.

It is unlikely that Bradley Jr. signs before Springer, with Bradley Jr. being able to land the biggest contract once Springer is off the board. There are reports that Springer is down to two teams, the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays, but there is no indication that he is remotely close to a deal.

Even when Springer leaves, there is no guarantee that Bradley Jr. ends up in Houston. His market is strong, and there appears to be mutual interest in a return to Boston. But in a recent interview, top Red Sox executive Chaim Bloom said that it is ultimately a business and that he is hopeful the two sides can line up on financials.

What the rest of Bradley Jr.’s market looks like is unclear, though he told McWilliams that “there is definitely interest.” The Toronto Blue Jays could be a fit as they look to upgrade their up-the-middle defense. The Philadelphia Phillies employ former Red Sox executive Dave Dombrowski, but their priority appears to be J.T. Realmuto and upgrading the bullpen.

The only thing we do know at the moment, however, is that there will not be an answer on who will be the Astros’ center fielder on Opening Day for awhile. And with spring training likely to be delayed, the team will have the luxury of time on their side.

But in order to land a capable replacement for Springer, the Astros will need to pay a hefty price. And if that player is not Bradley Jr., there are no clear options outside the organization that figure to provide a similar amount of production.