During the 2012 season, the Boston Red Sox were faced with the dilemma of who will play third base, after Will Middlebrooks was called up to fill in for the injured Kevin Youkilis and thrived. In the end, the Red Sox were forced to trade Youkilis and let Middlebrooks become the every day third baseman.
This season, the Red Sox could be faced with a similar issue. The outstanding play of Jackie Bradley Jr., has turned heads in Fort Myers, Fla. The outfielder has proved to the front office, he can play every day and contribute at the major league level.
This spring, Bradley has hit .536 with a home run and four RBI over 13 games. In the field, the outfielder has committed only a single error in 71.0 innings of play. Any major league team, looking for any outfielder, would break camp with this prospect in their lineup. However, the Red Sox currently have a full outfield and don’t want Bradley riding the bench in Boston. Instead, the team will likely have him start in Triple-A.
The outfield for the Red Sox consists of Shane Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonny Gomes. Both Victorino and Gomes have multi-year deals they signed this past offseason. Ellsbury will be a free agent, after this season, and if he goes down with an injury, he could end up in the same boat as Youkilis was. If they leave Bradley in the minor leagues and he tears it up, the team will be put in a predicament to bring him up, with no room on the roster. They will have a pontential rookie of the year candidate without a spot in the lineup.
The Red Sox could stick to their guns and just keep Bradley in the minors for the entire season, let him grow and just play the outfield the way it is. However, if he is called up and starts to perform in the majors, they will have to do something to get him playing time every day.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Red Sox handle this and if they have to make tough decisions as the season progresses.