It was the one reason that might have made some sense when it came to not dealing Jackie Bradley Jr. at the trade deadline: The qualifying offer.

By keeping Bradley Jr. for the entire season the Red Sox still had the option of extending a qualifying offer to the outfielder. By doing so the team would have received draft pick compensation if Bradley Jr. signed with another team, or it could have gotten the elite defender back on a one-year deal if he accepted the offer.

But what always seemed the longest of long shots just got more unlikely.