The Boston Red Sox have had one of their more exciting offseasons in recent memory, thanks to their blockbuster acquisition of starting pitcher Chris Sale. While the big moves have likely come and gone for the Red Sox, there is still work to be done before the team is ready for Spring Training. In that vein, Boston agreed to terms on one-year contracts for 2017 with seven players on Friday. Xander Bogaerts ($4.5 million), Jackie Bradley Jr. ($3.6 million), Brock Holt ($1.95 million), Sandy Leon ($1.3 million), Joe Kelly ($2.8 million), Robbie Ross Jr. ($1.82 million), and Tyler Thornburg ($2.05 million) all avoided arbitration.
Jackie Bradley Jr. avoids arbitration with $3.6M deal. #Redsox
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 13, 2017
Red Sox Agree to Terms with Seven Players
Of this group, the most significant names are those of Bogaerts and Bradley Jr. Along with Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, those two make up the heart of Boston’s young core, also known as the Killer B’s. Both were named American League All-Stars last season. Though these deals only delay the inevitable process of signing Bradley Jr. and Bogaerts to long-term extensions, they at least give the sides more time to work those out.
Bradley Jr. has long been one of the Red Sox top prospects, mostly thanks to his glove. He began bouncing between Triple-A Pawtucket and Boston in 2013. Though his defense immediately shoved him into the conversation as one of the best center fielder’s in the league, it looked for a while as though his bat skills wouldn’t translate from the minors to the majors.
Near the end of the 2015 season, however, something clicked. He hit .354 in August and, though he slowed down again in September, hope sprung anew that he had finally figured it all out. In 2016, he proved beyond any doubt that he had. In a career year across the board, the 26-year-old clubbed 30 doubles and 26 home runs, drove in 87 runners, and even added nine steals. He finished with a .267 batting average, an .835 OPS, and a 5.3 WAR.
JBJ’s glove alone makes him supremely valuable. If he proves in 2017 that his improvement at the plate was not a fluke, he’ll be in line for a big payday. The Red Sox will certainly try to hold onto him, especially if they are contending for the division, but they could get a king’s ransom for him on the trade market. It likely won’t come to that, but the possibility remains.
Bogaerts still has a couple more years of arbitration left, so the Red Sox have a bit more time to reach a long-term extension with him. Like Bradley Jr., the 24-year old shortstop had his best season to date in 2016. Though he didn’t quite match his .320 batting average from 2015, .294 is nothing to sneeze at. In addition, he recorded an .802 OPS, 13 steals, and 89 RBI.
Most noticeably, he finally found his power stroke, and hit 21 home runs while also knocking 34 doubles. His defense, always the weakest part of his game, improved as well, making him one of the best all-around shortstops in a league full of young, talented shortstops. While there is no word on a contract extension just yet, it is undoubtedly coming.