Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski understands the financial bind that awaits him.

It’s one reason why the Red Sox have been reluctant to re-sign Craig Kimbrel to the closer’s initial (and apparently subsequent) contract demands, why they were unwilling to match the Dodgers’ offer for Joe Kelly, and why their offseason has largely been centered around players with low-risk, high-reward upside and/or spring training invites alone.

And perhaps most telling yet, it’s why Dombrowski apparently spent some time at the Winter Meetings looking for a potential suitor for outfielder and playoff hero Jackie Bradley Jr., according to MLB insider Ken Rosenthal.

From The Athletic:

Left-hander Chris Sale, righty Rick Porcello, shortstop Xander Bogaerts and designated hitter J.D. Martinez are eligible for free agency after the 2019 season (Martinez if he opts out). Outfielders Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley are scheduled to hit the open market after ‘20.

The Red Sox will not retain all of those players, in part due to ongoing payroll concerns. Talk surfaced at the winter meetings that the team was willing to trade Porcello, Bogaerts or Bradley to clear money, perhaps for bullpen help. A source said the Sox pushed Bradley the hardest, but did not find a deal they liked.

Of course, this is not the first time this rumor has popped up, especially in regards to the trio of trade chips mentioned by Rosenthal, and it was actually met with a denial from Dombrowski when it first came up.

“I can tell you that we’re not looking to move anybody,” Dombrowski said in December. “We’re not driven to move anybody. But I think you always keep open minds to anything that takes place. People come to you with different thought processes.”

But the market would indicate that the Sox are indeed in need of cutting some costs and future contracts where they can.

It’s believed that Dombrowski and Co. are leaning towards a new deal for outfielder Andrew Benintendi, and it sounds as if Mookie Betts could literally blow everyone’s mind when it comes to his mega-deal after the 2020 season. And of the group that the Red Sox need to re-sign or show a legitimate interest in re-signing, say with the exception of the notoriously hot-and-cold and  Rick Porcello, there’s no denying that Bradley Jr. is the weakest of the group.

A career .234 hitter, Bradley Jr.’s value has likely never been higher after what was a clutch and a half postseason run with the Sox en route to a World Series, which featured countless big bombs from the 28-year-old, as well as the 2018 ALCS MVP honors. There’s also the fact that Bradley plays some of the best defense baseball has to offer, boasts a serious cannon of an arm in center field, and is coming off the first Gold Glove of a six-year MLB career spent in Boston.

But that’s also why the Red Sox aren’t exactly going to give Bradley Jr. away for free, making the report that they were unable to find a persuasive enough deal beyond easy to believe, especially if Dombrowski remains intent on contending in 2019.