According to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, the Seattle Mariners rejected a deal from the Boston Red Sox during spring training that would have sent Gold Glove Finalist Jackie Bradley Jr. to the rainy city for lefty reliever Charlie Furbush. Since this news resurfaced again last night, the Red Sox and General Manager Ben Cherington have denied these reports calling them “simply false”. But Edes continues to state that his source is from one of the teams involved in the trade proposal. When looking at it from both sides, if this deal had been accepted instead of rejected, it would have made some sense for both clubs, especially when looking at the way the season has started for both the BoSox and M’s halfway through May.
2015 is Austin Jackson‘s last season before hitting free agency, and even though he has started the year slowly and is on the disabled list, he is likely to earn a pretty good contract as long as he can get back on the field. With the Mariners spending a significant amount of money the past few seasons with signings and extensions, it would be tough to lock up another guy who has been pretty inconsistent throughout his career for the long-term. The addition of Bradley Jr. could have helped long-term quite well; 2015 could have been used as another season to get Jackie comfortable at the plate while setting him up to take over the job come 2016. It’s not like Jackie is going to have to be an elite hitter to stick at the major league level, as his fielding ability in center is some of the best in all of baseball. In a ballpark like Safeco, where it is already hard to hit, adding another guy who can really flash the leather will help out their pitching staff even more.
Since the season started, Jackie Bradley Jr. has been on a tear at the plate thanks to a change in his batting stance. Across 24 games down in AAA Pawtucket, JBJ had posted a strong .343 batting average with nine doubles and a .393 OBP. Even when Jackie had been dubbed a top prospect prior to the 2013 season, he had never destroyed the AAA level like he has so far in 2015. His performance through the first month of the season earned him a short call up at the end of April, and another one just five days ago where he has yet to be sent back down. In a year for the Red Sox that has seen many roster moves early in the season, Jackie will have to perform soon to show he can bring immediate value. With the long jam that is the Red Sox outfield right now, there seems to be no place for Bradley Jr. long-term, meaning that it is quite likely in the nearby future he is dealt for a team need such as pitching.
The addition of Charlie Furbush prior to the season would have definitely helped out the Red Sox and their struggling pitching staff. During Charlie’s time in the majors he has been streaky, at times showing complete dominance while at others getting hit around. One tool Furbush has that is quite rare in baseball today though is the ability to fulfill different roles in a bullpen. He has worked in long relief before while also working late in games. So far in 2015, Furbush has posted a strong 1.80 ERA across 10 innings but isn’t striking out guys like he has in the past. From 2012-2014 he averaged more than 10 K/9, but so far this season that number sits at an unimpressive 6.3. Charlie has been dealt some good luck early on in 2015, and his 4.47 xFIP shows that but if he can find a way to start striking out guys again he’ll be just fine. Also we are looking at a very small sample size in 10 innings, pitchers sometimes just go through streaks where the strikeouts tend not to rack up. This change in Furbush’s game is something that should be kept an eye on though, because if it doesn’t improve his long term success could be in some serious jeopardy when taking the mound in places that are more hitter friendly than Safeco.
In all reality, the Red Sox probably did attempt to make a deal for Furbush, but they’d never admit that publicly. Doing so would not only show the Red Sox want to move Bradley, lowering his overall trade value but would make things awkward between the player and organization. During a time in which the Red Sox need Jackie to fulfill his potential in order to get something back in return, they can’t have him worrying that the organization that drafted him doesn’t want him anymore. Down the line maybe a deal could get done between these two clubs involving these guys, but after a report like this leaks, the relationship between the organizations usually takes a hit. GM’s across all sports are never happy when news gets out to the public of what they’re doing to try and improve their team; it just makes business as a whole more awkward for everyone involved.