Mets should approach Jackie Bradley Jr’s lengthy contract demands with caution
The New York Mets are still in the market for a center fielder and they have long been connected to free agent Jackie Bradley Jr. since George Springer signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. While no movement has been made on that front in recent weeks there are now reports circulating that the 30-year old center fielder is “seeking a significant contract, perhaps beyond four years”, according to sources close to reporter Mike Puma.
While the Mets could certainly use an upgrade at center field, I don’t believe the front office should go beyond four years and tie up significant money to land Jackie Bradley Jr. I firmly believed since the team has shifted its focus from Springer, that the Mets should offer a three-year contract, with a possible fourth-year option included in the deal.
MLB Trade Rumors.com had predicted Bradley netting a two year $16 million deal in their offseason predictions column, but I always viewed Bradley landing a three year deal with a club this offseason, due to Bradley’s defensive metrics.
Although Bradley’s defensive prowess provides value in itself, the offensive consistency has not been there for much of his career, which makes me a bit wary in a longer-term commitment to a player who will be approaching the wrong side of 30 sooner rather than later. It’s also important to note that Bradley will be turning 31 in April.
The Mets should be cautious in approaching a contract beyond three or four years for free agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
These types of long-term deals with players over 30 have never really favored the Mets in the past, which is another reason I would use a much more cautious approach with a potential long-term deal with Bradley. For the record, I was never a fan of offering George Springer a longer-term deal either, and I have a feeling Toronto will have buyer’s remorse towards the tail end of his six-year contract.
I still believe Bradley is an elite defensive center fielder and can be for another couple of seasons, but should he lose a step defensively at some point and not build off his noteworthy offensive campaign last season, the value of the contract immediately becomes expensive for a potential fourth outfielder on an already left-handed heavy team.
We all know that Bradley’s agent Scott Boras is going to play hardball to get his client the best possible deal on the open market. There is also no doubt that the Mets would be a better team with Bradley on the roster, and he would provide a significant upgrade defensively in an offseason that has seen the front office add defensive upgrades in James McCann and Francisco Lindor.
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However, I would not go any further than three years and $32 million on a deal for Bradley and it will be interesting to see what kind of deal he ultimately winds up with as we move through the upcoming days.