Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who was linked to the New York Mets for much of the winter and a part of the spring, has decided to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2021 season. According to Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe, Milwaukee and the talented defensive outfielder are in agreement on a two-year, $24 million contract.
The Mets pursued marquee center fielder George Springer for much of the season, as he was clearly their top priority. However, once he received a six-year offer from the Toronto Blue Jays, the Mets weren’t willing to go that far and he ended up signing with them.
Then, the Mets turned their attention to Bradley Jr. However, they didn’t like the price and instead pivoted to two lower-tier targets in Albert Almora (non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs) and Kevin Pillar.
The Mets’ center field plan
Both men are known for their limited offensive contributions and their excellent glove, which was a trait that the Mets were clearly looking for as a complement to Brandon Nimmo and his iffy defense in center field.
Nimmo is still considered the Mets’ starter in center field, but the team will probably go with Pillar as a late-inning defensive replacement, or Almora if he is on the roster.
As for the Brewers, they are getting one of the best fielders in the game at a premium position. The second year of the pact is a player option, so Bradley Jr. can re-enter the free agent market if he thinks he could make more money next season under, we hope, normal circumstances.
The 30-year-old former Red Sox hit for a .283/.364/.450 batting line (.814 OPS) with seven home runs and five stolen bases over 55 games for Boston in 2020.
Avisail Garcia will likely be pushed to the bench while Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Bradley man the outfield.