Report: Jackie Bradley Jr. agrees to 2-year, $24M deal with Brewers

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
3 Comments

MILWAUKEE — Free-agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is joining the Milwaukee Brewers, agreeing to the parameters of a two-year, $24 million contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the details of the agreement were still being negotiated and the deal is subject to a successful physical.

Bradley would have the right to opt out after one year and $13 million, allowing him to become a free agent after after this season.

The Boston Globe first reported Bradley’s decision,

Bradley will join the Brewers will into spring training, which started in mid-February. Opening day is April 1.

Bradley turns 31 on April 19 and is regarded as a top defensive center fielder. He had spent his entire career in Boston and batted .283 with seven homers and 22 RBIs during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He had a .364 on-base percentage and an .814 OPS in 55 games last season.

Bradley earned $4,074,074 in prorated pay from an $11 million salary.

His career numbers include a .239 batting average, .321 on-base percentage. 732 OPS, 98 homers and 376 RBIs. He won a Gold Glove in 2018 and led the American League in assists by a center fielder in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019.

This move continues the Brewers’ offseason emphasis on defense.

The Brewers already added former St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, a Gold Glove winner each of the last two seasons. Wong signed a two-year, $18 million contract with a 2022 team option after the Cardinals declined to pick up their $12.5 million option on him.

Bradley’s addition seemingly gives the Brewers four potential starters for three outfield spots.

The Brewers already have 2019 Gold Glove center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who opted out after playing five games last season but is back in spring training camp.

“We’re trying to get his legs underneath him and it’s going a little slower than we’d like,” manager Craig Counsell said.

Christian Yelich, the 2018 NL MVP, is set in left field.

Milwaukee also brings back Avisail Garcia, who usually has played right field but took over in center last year after Cain’s exit. Garcia batted .238 with a .659 OPS in 53 games last season but had a .796 OPS with 20 homers two years ago with Tampa Bay.

Without commenting specifically on the potential addition of Bradley, Counsell noted how depth could boost Milwaukee’s outfield.

“Adding players that we can put out there every day, a combination of players who are going to tackle all of those plate appearances, I think it can create a really good insurance floor,” Counsell said. “And it would allow us to go a little bit slower (with) Cain at the start of the season if we had to. I’m not anticipating that will happen.”

Since the NL is expected to go without a designated hitter this season, the Brewers would seem to have a surplus of outfielders accustomed to starting, unless they make another move in the next few weeks.

“We don’t have any fourth outfielders,” Counsell said. “We’re going to have a lot of starting outfielders and we’re going to have to figure out how that works. That’s kind of how I’m viewing it. But there is playing time, absolutely.”

Bradley has played center for 781 of his 873 career games, though he has made infrequent appearances at the other corner outfield spots. Cain has played center in about 90% of his career games, though he also has made 157 appearances in right field.

Asked about the possibility of Cain moving to right field, Counsell replied, “Lorenzo’s our center fielder.”

Bradley and Yelich are left-handed hitters, while Cain and Garcia bat from the right side.

This move leaves the Red Sox without any of the starting outfielders from their 2018 team that won the World Series. They traded right fielder Mookie Betts to the Dodgers last year and sent left fielder Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals last month.

Bradley had been with the Red Sox since their 2013 World Series championship season, though he didn’t appear in a postseason game that year.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora called Bradley a “solid player, better person” on Thursday.

“He has a fan from afar,” Cora said. “I will be paying attention and, obviously, off the field, we are going to keep having a relationship. ”

The Brewers are chasing their fourth consecutive playoff berth this season. They made the playoffs last year with a 29-31 record despite never being above .500 all year, though they lost to the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the opening round.

NOTE: The Brewers announced Thursday that Milwaukee health officials have approved a plan to allow spectators at home games to fill 25% of American Family Field’s capacity for the start of the season. Pregame tailgating won’t be allowed at the start of the season. The Brewers open the season by hosting the Minnesota Twins on April 1.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

atlanta braves
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
7 Comments

ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.