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The previous four players on this list are in hot water because they haven’t performed well and are therefore under pressure to turn things around under threat of losing their respective jobs. In the case of Bradley, however, he has performed better than anyone on the team and is under pressure to keep it up if he wants to earn a promotion.
In 44 plate appearances in big league camp, Bradley has managed a ridiculous .457/.568/.600 slash line. Those are not the numbers of some prospect with potential to be a great player some day. Those are the numbers of a current great player, plain and simple.
If the Red Sox original roster were completely intact, there would be no room for Bradley. David Ortiz’s injury, however, opens the door for John Farrell to get creative.
Assuming Ortiz is out for at least the first few weeks of the season, one of the most logical choices to take his place would be left-fielder, Jonny Gomes.
Gomes has a powerful bat and a quality on-base percentage, but his defense is noticeably subpar. Thus, a designated hitter role could be the best allocation of his talent, even if it is a temporary move.
But of course, there would then be a hole in left field. With Bradley in the mix, an interesting solution would be to move Ellsbury to left field, where he has over 500 innings of experience, and let Bradley, the young defensive superstar, command center field.
This would leave the Red Sox with three Gold Glove-caliber center fielders in Ellsbury, Bradley and Shane Victorino playing the three outfield positions. The Red Sox would have the best defensive outfield in the majors, hands down.
There are other considerations that may prevent this scenario from taking place. If Ortiz is expected back in just a few days, the Red Sox will likely let Daniel Nava or Ryan Sweeney fill in.
After all, calling up Bradley for a prolonged period would start his arbitration clock, causing him to be a free agent a year earlier. I think if Ortiz’s injury is minimal, Ben Cherington would rather play Nava or Sweeney and, in turn, keep Bradley under team control for an extra year down the road.
But, if Bradley maintains his level of production, it will certainly be a difficult decision to make.
All statistical information obtained from baseball-reference.com