The worst-kept secret in baseball has finally been revealed. Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has officially made the Boston Red Sox’s Opening Day roster.
The 22-year-old Bradley was the final player added to Boston’s 25-man roster. To secure his place, he had to also be assigned to the team’s 40-man roster, which was done at the expense of first baseman Mauro Gomez being designated for assignment.
The story was first reported in a tweet by MassLive.com’s Evan Drellich:
Jackie Bradley Jr. has made the #redsox. Mauro Gomez designated for assignment.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 31, 2013
The transactions were confirmed in a separate tweet by The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham:
Bradley on roster. Mauro Gomez DFA'd. #RedSox— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) March 31, 2013
Bradley was a 2011 supplemental first-round draft pick from the University of South Carolina. He was originally expected to start the 2013 season in the minors because of having only 138 minor league games under his belt.
He appeared in a total of 128 games last year between high Single-A and Double-A, hitting a combined .315 with nine home runs, 63 RBI and 24 stolen bases.
The left-handed hitter forced his way into the 2013 major league roster conversation by hitting .433 with two home runs and 12 RBI this spring.
The decision became a bit easier when it was announced that designated hitter David Ortiz would start the season on the disabled list.
Bradley is a natural center fielder, but is a plus defender and will play left field at the start of his major league career. Jacoby Ellsbury will man center, and Jonny Gomes will pick up the majority of the DH at-bats in Ortiz’s absence.
A young prospect like Bradley needs to play regularly, so his inclusion to Boston’s roster is a strong indicator that the Red Sox plan to use him as a starter and see how he holds up.
His first major league game will come on April 1 against C.C. Sabathia and the New York Yankees; a tough test for any player.
Many around baseball felt that the Red Sox should have started Bradley in the minors to get him more seasoning and to stave off his eligibility for free agency for an extra year.
If Boston keeps Bradley in the minors for 20 consecutive days at any point during the 2013 season, he won’t hit free agency until 2019. By having him on the big-league roster to start the year, they are sending a clear signal that they are most interested in winning now and are willing to possibly risk having the Scott Boras client become a free agent after 2018.
A lot of pressure has been heaped on Bradley this spring. As Opening Day approaches, his play will determine if he can live up to the expectations or if he needs more time to develop.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference