The 2020 NFL season concluded this past weekend, and baseball is right around the corner.
That's right: Pitchers and catchers will report to spring training sometime next week, meaning we could see one last flurry of free-agent signings and trades.
Last week saw two of the biggest names sign, with Trevor Bauer heading home to Los Angeles after inking a pact with the Dodgers and Marcell Ozuna re-upping with the Atlanta Braves. Plus, the Colorado Rockies finalized a deal to send Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals.
An offseason rife with frustrating periods of inactivity has also seen seismic acquisitions. What else is in store with spring training on the horizon? Here is some of the latest buzz from around Major League Baseball, including Jackie Bradley Jr.'s market.
Jackie Bradley Jr. Wants 4-Plus-Year Deal
Bradley is one of the best position players still on the market, and he's looking for a long-term deal.
Mike Puma of the New York Post reported last week the 30-year-old is seeking a "significant contract" of possibly four years or more. He might be all the more emboldened after Ozuna got four years from Atlanta.
Yes, Ozuna is seven months younger than Bradley. He is also far more productive at the plate. That said, Bradley is a generational defender at a premium position in center field.
Bradley has ranked in the 91st percentile or higher in outs above average (OAA) in each of the last four years. He had a case for the Gold Glove last season and is consistently an elite defensive outfielder.
The Virginia native has been less consistent at the dish. Bradley has a career .732 OPS and 94 OPS+. He has had three seasons with an OPS over .800 but also had a wRC+ no higher than 90 in three straight years from 2017 to 2019. How will interested suitors evaluate Bradley? Some of his offensive results are confounding.
Bradley ranked in the 93rd percentile in average exit velocity and 96th percentile in hard-hit rate in 2018, but that yielded just a .234 average and a .403 slugging percentage. He struck out less and improved the whiff rate in 2020 but ranked in the 40th percentile or lower in exit velocity and hard-hit rate. Yet, that change in approach resulted in an .814 OPS.
Perhaps executives will bank on Bradley's upside as a guy who can hit for power to go with his defensive prowess. But given that he's on the cusp of 31 and lacks a steady offensive track record, a four-year deal seems unlikely.
The Verdict: Buy Bradley's desire for that length, sell his expectation
Mets Still in on JBJ After Albert Almora Jr. Signing
The New York Mets might be primed to push for Bradley after missing out on Bauer.
Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe reported the Mets remain "very much engaged" with Bradley's camp after signing former Chicago Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. Meanwhile, Joel Sherman of the New York Post also reported the Mets had an "extended Zoom meeting" with Bradley in the past week.
Adding Bradley would seem to make sense, especially considering Mets president of baseball operations Sandy Alderson said last month he is "not comfortable" with Dominic Smith as the everyday left fielder. But the Mets have a problem, as there will be nowhere else to put Smith.