The Red Sox outfielder has struggled immensely and it’s time to get him a break.
The tactic is one that has been used by managers around MLB for years. A player struggles, but has the tenure on the team to deserve a break without demotion.
A player, Jackie Bradley, in this case has struggled mightily to begin the 2018 campaign. Currently hitting .167, Bradley has seen multiple days out of the lineup to work on his swing, but it has been to no avail. The Red Sox outfielder is very clearly pressing at the plate – knowing that each 0-3 game will result in a day off.
Enter the phantom DL.
Sooner, or later, JBJ will come down with some “lower back tightness” or “shoulder fatigue” and will be sent to the 10 Day DL. This is a way to free up a roster spot for a hot AAA player, or for Dustin Pedroia to return to the Red Sox lineup. The time off will allow JBJ to work on his swing and make a few rehab appearances throughout the minor league systems.
The Red Sox were notorious for using this tactic with Clay Buchholz. The former starter would often deal with struggles and immediately be sent to the DL to figure things out. Unfortunately for Clay, his tenure in Boston was cut short due to the inability to correct his issues, but the Sox utilized this method often.
Why not trade him?
At this point, the Red Sox know what they have in Jackie Bradley. He’s a streaky hitter with above average speed, but provides Gold Glove caliber defense. If Bradley is able to maintain a .240 average for each season, it will be good enough to keep his glove in the lineup.
Dave Dombrowski is known for his aggression in trades, but with the Red Sox sitting at 30-14, it is likely that he isn’t inclined to move a starting outfielder.
JBJ would allow the Red Sox to acquire a position of need – possibly a reliever – or even restock the dwindling farm system. However, a trade well before the deadline is unlikely and the demand for an outfielder that is batting below the Mendoza Line isn’t astronomically high.
Don’t be surprised to see this come into fruition in the coming days.