BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox played their final game at a fan-less Fenway Park on Thursday night, falling to the Orioles 13-1. It may have been Jackie Bradley Jr.’s final game in a Red Sox uniform in the famous ballyard.
Bradley Jr. has been making spectacular catches in the Fenway outfield for the last eight seasons, but will become a free agent when the 2020 season comes to an end. Though the Red Sox have said they’d like to bring Bradley Jr. back, anything can happen in free agency.
The 30-year-old is the longest tenured member of the Red Sox, drafted by the team in 2011 with the 40th overall selection after his stellar career at the University of South Carolina. He made his Red Sox debut in 2013 after an impressive spring, but played in only 37 games in the big leagues, spending most of his time in Triple A. But he’s been a fixture in center field for the Red Sox since 2014, thanks mostly to his outstanding defense.
Through his ups and downs at the plate, Bradley Jr. has always provided highlights with his defense, whether it was leaping grabs or cannon throws to gun down runners. Along the way, he earned an All-Star nod in 2016, a Gold Glove in 2018 and was MVP of the 2018 ALCS as Boston marched to a World Series title.
“He’s a pretty special guy,” Boston manager Ron Roenicke said ahead of Thursday’s 13-1 loss. “We’ll see what happens after this year. I’ve sure had a great experience with him, coaching him and now managing him. He goes about his business just as professionally as you can get. He’s a great guy on and off the field.”
Bradley Jr. went 1-for-4 in what could be his final game at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox, lacing a single in the fifth inning and striking out to end the game. He’s heading into free agency at a good time though, slashing .279/.353/.419 for his best offensive season.
The Red Sox brass has said they would like to re-sign Bradley Jr., but he has said he would like to test free agency. Peter Gammons of The Athletic reported earlier this week that Boston could make a run at Astros outfielder George Springer if Bradley Jr. signs elsewhere.