According to MLB Trade Rumors, the San Francisco Giants are interested in acquiring Red Sox centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Before everyone screams KUNG FOO PANDA! remember that wasn’t a trade. We signed him as a free agent. It was a self-inflicted wound.
That we’re still paying for until 2020.
Bradley is Eminently Tradeable
I simply do not understand the love affair with Bradley. Jackie Bradley Jr. is not Mookie Betts. He is a fine baseball player, but he is not untradeable. He is Coco Crisp, not Jacoby Ellsbury. Bradley is an elite fielder and a great base runner, but he is a demonstrably average hitter (.239 BA / .726 OPS career).
Sure, in a childish way it’s cute when he, Benny, and Mookie dance after games. It’d be better if he produced at the plate. He is completely replaceable and should be available at the right price. The right price in a deal with the Giants is Buster Posey.
Posey (.308 BA /128 HR / 594 RBI / .850 OPS career) is under contract through 2022, with an average annual hit of $21.4M. He’ll be 35 when that deal is up. His resume is obscene: ROY, MVP, batting title champ, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger (4). Oh yeah, and three-time World Series champion.
Posey is the best catcher in the game. He shouldn’t be available. But he might be.
San Francisco was the worst-hitting team in baseball last year. Reports contend they want to be in the mix for Stanton to address their woeful lack of power (40 fewer HRs than the Sox if you can believe that!). The Giants problem, however, is that they are already committed to sixteen players at $170M next year and are even more afraid of the $197M luxury-tax threshold than the Sox.
They probably can’t add Stanton and his $28M (11-years, $310M remaining) contract without losing Posey. But, in trading Posey to Boston they can fix center field, upgrade the pop in their lineup, and stay under the luxury tax.
What it Would Take
As delusional as most fans are about their teams’ talent, nobody believes that the Sox could swap JBJ for Buster Posey. At least nobody with even a single active brain cell. It would cost much more.
Boston is deep at catcher. We’d need to lose one. Leon (29), Vazquez (27), and Swihart (26) are all younger than Posey. The ideal scenario would be JBJ, Sandy Leon, and a minor leaguer for Posey. JBJ and Leon are both under team-friendly control through 2021.
The problem is, Leon is not Christian Vazquez. Vazquez is younger and better both at the dish and behind it, and SF would likely demand him in any deal. Boston should avoid that at all costs, even if it means giving up better minor league talent in return.
The Ideal Scenario
The ideal scenario for the Sox is the JBJ-Leon for Posey deal for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it adds an elite veteran and quality bat to the lineup without giving up too much in return. Second, it keeps the better catcher on the roster, allowing for Posey’s eventual move to first base.
Like Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, the last AL catcher to win a batting title, Posey is going to have to move to first or DH to extend his career. He has more than a thousand MLB games on those knees. Soon the wear and tear on the body will affect not only his availability but his productivity. And, unlike Jason Varitek, who was great managing the staff but a black hole in the lineup for years, Posey’s bat makes it a no-brainer. He will be more valuable to a team, and to his wallet, for longer by making the move sooner.
With Vazquez behind the dish and Posey at first, Boston can go all in on replacing Bradley with JD Martinez. Martinez is attainable for less than Stanton and, with Buster’s bat already an upgrade to Moreland, the lineup will be deeper and more productive than if they just add Stanton.