Chicago Cubs Rumors: Team linked to Boston Red Sox and Jackie Bradley Jr.
By Jake Misener
A media report linked the Chicago Cubs to Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Monday morning as the Winter Meetings kicked off in Orlando.
For the second time in as many days, rumors connected the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. First, Boston’s reported interest in Kyle Schwarber was detailed. Now, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is reportedly on the block with Bob Nightengale linking the young outfielder to the Cubs.
I have no idea why this makes sense.
Bradley, a 2016 All-Star, appeared in 133 games last season for the Red Sox. And, to be blunt, he didn’t deliver on the hype that’s surrounded him for years. He put up a .726 OPS – his worst mark since 2014 – to go along with a slugging percentage that barely broke .400.
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Sure, he’s still got three years of control left. He’s a plus defender in center field, as well. But we’re talking about a guy who clearly hasn’t put it all together yet. Based on OPS+ metrics, he’s a below-average offensive player. I’d much rather take my chances with guys like Schwarber than trading that pop for someone like Bradley.
Of course, 2017 wasn’t exactly the campaign we’d hoped for from Schwarber. It included a midseason demotion to Triple-A, a batting average that barely broke the Mendoza Line and, somehow, 30 home runs. He showed promise down the stretch, but there’s clearly work to be done ahead of Opening Day.
What the Cubs have in the mix
Right now, you assume the starting outfield is a combination of Jason Heyward, Albert Almora and Schwarber. Of course, you’re going to cycle in Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist into the mix to give guys blows, as well.
Let’s put Bradley side-by-side with Almora.
And anyone who watched Almora on a daily basis knows he’s capable of becoming an elite defender in center field. Of course, with the stick, the former first-rounder was much better against lefties than righties. If he can come out with more consistency on a day-to-day basis, he will undoubtedly be the team’s center fielder of the future.
Makes more sense for Boston than Chicago
Here’s what this comes down to. Boston badly needs to inject quality power bats into the lineup. With the Yankees adding Giancarlo Stanton to the mix, the pressure is on in Beantown. Losing is as unacceptable in Boston as it now is on the North Side. Adding someone like Schwarber could be a big shot in the arm for the Red Sox.
Of course, Boston is tied to multiple top-tier free agents, as well, including Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez. Carlos Santana could be a fit, as well, but we’ll see how this shakes out in Orlando this week.
Next: Schwarber will be in left field for the Cubs come Opening Day
A trade that doesn’t make the Cubs notably better won’t happen. That seems like a ‘duh’ statement, but with this report floating around, I have to remind folks of that. Almora will have his shot at center field. If a team wants to talk about Schwarber or other young position players, it’ll be centered around controllable impact pitching, not an outfielder yet to figure out his path in the bigs.