Due to David Ortiz's heel injury, the Red Sox find themselves in a pickle. Do they let uber-prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. open the season as the big clubs everyday left fielder and move Jonny Gomes into the now-vacant DH spot? Or do they leave Bradley in Triple-A so as to ensure his arbitration and free-agent clocks don't start this season? ESPN MLB Insider Buster Olney tackled this dilemma in his blog this morning (Insider content). Here's an excerpt:
For the Red Sox, there is a clear advantage to waiting before they promote Bradley -- but they also must keep an open mind to the possibilities that some players can be an exception to the rule. If there is an every day opportunity, and if there is a player that is a clear best alternative, there is some value in going with that player that can mitigate the downside to starting earlier.
The other factor the Sox must consider is Bradley's timeline for becoming arbitration eligibile. If the Red Sox want to prevent Bradley from becoming a "Super Two" and getting an extra year of arbitration, one executive wrote in an e-mail, "the best time [to call him up] is somewhere in the range of June 15-July 1. Since [Super Two] players are in the top 22.2 percent of the two-plus [years] service class, it is something of a moving continuum. Put another way, if clubs all wait and don't call up top prospects like Bradley the date gets pushed back. However, based upon past dates and the current projections for this class, a promotion somewhere in the June 15-July 1 timeframe should work." ...
If I were running the Red Sox (and they are fortunate that is not the case): I'd start him in the minor leagues to open the year and call him up on April 20, after ensuring that he wouldn't become eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season, rather than 2018. Jonny Gomes could play left field until then, and move into a fourth outfielder/DH role once Bradley arrives.
What would you do with Bradley if you were running the Red Sox? Vote in the poll above or share your thoughts in the comments section?