Brewers: OF Jackie Bradley Jr. Reportedly Set to Return in 2022

While the dust probably hasn’t even settled from the Atlanta Braves’ celebration of their 2021 World Series win last night, the Milwaukee Brewers have already shown that they are in offseason mode with an eye to 2022.

Earlier today, it was reported that the Brewers were making their first splash, albeit a minor one, of the offseason, signing former San Francisco Giants pitcher Trevor Gott to a major league contract a year after spending all of 2021 in Triple-A.

That wouldn’t be all the team news for the day, though. Milwaukee has two outfielders, Avisail Garcia and Jackie Bradley Jr, with contract options to sort out over the coming days. On Thursday, it was reported that one of those decisions has been made.

While Garcia’s contract option for 2022 is a mutual one, Bradley Jr’s is just a player option. And for Brewers fans who saw the latter on offense during the 2021 season, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that he chose to exercise it.

Exercising his 2022 player option was a no-brainer for Brewers outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

The Brewers added Jackie Bradley Jr to their outfield mix last offseason for a couple of key reasons. One was part of a movement to sort of recommit to stronger defensive play. The other was to cover likely missed games by fellow outfielders Lorenzo Cain, who was coming back from a Covid-19 opt out in 2020, and Christian Yelich, who has had lingering back issues.

Bradley Jr, more than held up his end of the bargain on the defensive end. Even while starting less than 100 games in the outfield for the Milwaukee, his mix of stellar plays and solid all-around defense led him to be named a Gold Glove finalist in center field for 2021.

But while Bradley Jr has always had a reputation as an above average defender, the same wouldn’t be said for his offensive game. Coming into the season, he had a career .239/.321/.412 slash line and 98 homers in 873 games over eight seasons, all with the Boston Red Sox.

He was coming off of one of his best offensive seasons, though, when he slashed .283/.364/.450 during the Covid-shortened 2020 season. Had he been able to keep up that pace, it would have made a fine addition to a Brewers team that lacked punch last season.

Unfortunately, what happened to Bradley Jr was the exact opposite. His numbers at the plate plummeted to the tune of a .163/.236/.261 slash line in his first season as a Brewer. While he was a stud in the field, the lefty ended up being a liability at the plate.

To say that it would be unlikely for him to secure a contract in free agency that would pay him as much as his Milwaukee contract option would be an understatement. Hence, Brewer fans will see Bradley Jr’s glove roaming the outfield at American Family Field once again in 2022.

Some offseason moves catch you by surprise, while other ones are exactly what you expected. You can file this transaction into the second category.