JBJ back to Boston in deal with Crew

December 2nd, 2021

In a somewhat stunning development, the Red Sox are getting their outfield wizard back.

Late Wednesday night, the Sox and Brewers agreed on a trade that brings back to Boston in exchange for power-hitting outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

In the deal, the Red Sox are also getting two Minor League infielders in David Hamilton and Alex Binelas, who were ranked 16th and 17th respectively among Brewers prospects by MLB Pipeline. Hamilton is a middle infielder while Binelas plays the corners.

Bradley is due $9.5 million in 2022 and has a $12 million mutual option for ’23 with an $8 million buyout.

“He seemed happy,” said Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who spoke to Bradley briefly after the trade. “He and his family mean a lot to his organization, and vice versa. So, I think he’s excited to get back here. I don’t want to speak for him. He certainly was surprised, but he certainly seemed excited.”

After being non-tendered by the Rays, the Red Sox signed Renfroe last December to a one-year, $3 million contract that included two additional years of club control.

Renfroe rewarded the Sox by belting 31 homers and 96 RBIs for a team that advanced to Game 6 of the American League Championship Series before getting eliminated by the Astros.

“Especially want to thank Hunter Renfroe, who despite being here only one year, was such a huge part of what we did,” said Bloom. “I know Hunter loved Boston and it felt like Boston loved Hunter. And we wish him nothing but the best. Class act and a great teammate.”

Bradley -- who was drafted by the Red Sox in 2011 and spent six seasons patrolling center field as well as anyone in team history -- struggled mightily at the plate in ’21 after signing with the Brewers as a free agent during Spring Training.

In 134 games for the NL Central champions, Bradley slashed .163/.236/.261 with six homers and 29 RBIs in 428 plate appearances.

The Red Sox think Bradley can bounce back in comfortable surroundings.

“We’re certainly optimistic,” Bloom said. “This is home for Jackie and recognizing that it was a tough year for him, I think we all know the ability he has is better than what he showed this year. I think coming back here, we’ll be able to get him back to a lot of what he used to do.

“Defense has always been his calling card, but we know he’s a better hitter than what he showed this past year, and we’re optimistic we’re going to be able to get him back to something resembling who he was here for so long.”

With the Red Sox, Bradley had a line of .239/.321/.412 with 176 doubles, 26 triples, 104 homers and 405 RBIs in 873 games from 2013-20.

Bradley was notorious for being a streaky hitter in his first tour of duty with the Red Sox and his best-timed hot streak came in the 2018 AL Championship Series against the Astros, when he was named MVP.

Given that Renfroe is gone, there is a chance Bradley will get at least some of his playing time in right field, where he’s performed well in the past.

Kiké Hernández was tremendous as a defender in center for Boston in ’21. Bradley’s strong arm makes him a good fit to play right at Fenway Park.

“Obviously moving Hunter leaves a hole, but we felt having two premium defensive center fielders is a huge boost to our roster,” said Bloom. “True center fielders are hard to find and we feel we now have two of the best at that position. So what he brings to our roster is a very hard thing to find.”

Alex Verdugo is Boston’s primary left fielder.

One thing everyone knows about Bloom is his love for stockpiling his farm system.

And while bringing back JBJ is certainly going to play well with the fanbase, the prospects coming back were a driving force in this deal.

Hamilton, drafted by the Brewers out of the University of Texas in 2019, has plus speed. That was displayed when the 24-year-old left-handed hitter stole 52 bases in the Minors in ’21.

Binelas, a third-round pick in last June’s Draft, is known for his promising bat. The Milwaukee-area native was thrilled when the Brewers selected him out of Louisville. In his first taste of pro ball, the 21-year-old left-handed hitter had a .309 average with nine homers and 29 RBIs in 159 plate appearances, playing 29 of his 36 games for Class-A Carolina.

“We’re also excited about the Minor League players we got, so we felt this was something that made sense for us right now and also has a chance to pay dividends down the road,” said Bloom.