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Jackie Bradley, Jr. will exercise player option and stay with Milwaukee Brewers, per report

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He was among baseball’s worst hitters, but is a great defender in the outfield.

Milwaukee Brewers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Brewers announced the signing of one player who may well be a part of the 2022 season earlier today in Trevor Gott. This evening, it has been reported that another player will almost surely factor into the 2022 season, as according to Jon Heyman, outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. will exercise his $9.5 mil player option to come back next summer.

Bradley, Jr. was a solid, if inconsistent hitter during his eight seasons with the Boston Red Sox, but he saw his offensive production crater during his first summer with the Menomonee Valley Nine. In 428 plate appearances across 134 games played, JBJ could manage only a .163/.236/.261 slash line (34 OPS+) with six home runs and seven steals. He had the highest strikeout rate (30.8%) and lowest walk rate (6.5%) of his career, and though he was hampered by a .226 batting average on balls in play, his Statcast expected metrics generally support that he was a very poor performer at the plate throughout the season (.224 wOBA versus .255 xwOBA). He was an elite defensive center fielder, at least, with +12 Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield and a Gold Glove nomination, but overall was still a net negative at -0.7 bWAR.

Bradley, Jr. will earn $9.5 mil in 2022, as opposed to the $6.5 mil buyout he would have gotten had he declined the option and hit the open market. By picking up the 2022 player option, JBJ now also has a mutual option decision that will come up after next season. He could earn $12 mil in 2023 if both sides of the option are exercised, or an $8 mil buyout if one or both sides decline. Bradley, Jr. and Lorenzo Cain are both projected to be with the team next season as highly-paid, defense-first center fielders; it stands to reason that the Brewers could look to move one or both of them in order to allocate their payroll in a more owner-friendly manner. Neither of the pair figures to have much trade value at this point, however.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference