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Reimer: Jackie Bradley Jr.'s stardom is why Red Sox shouldn't overpay for Todd Frazier –– or any deadline piece

Alex Reimer
July 17, 2017 - 3:23 pm

The Red Sox were one piece away from making a World Series push when the trade deadline arrived in 2013. They needed a veteran starting pitcher to fill out the rotation, with Clay Buchholz heading to the disabled list with an elbow injury. They pitched with an incomplete staff for roughly three weeks, before adding right-hander Jake Peavy July 30. 

At that advanced stage in his career, Peavy was no longer a dominant top of the rotation arm. But he was a more than capable big league fill in, and better yet, didn’t cost the Red Sox any major prospects in return. The centerpiece of Boston’s package was light-hitting shortstop Jose Iglesias, who was in the midst of a BABIP-fueled career year offensively. 

The Red Sox could have nabbed somebody better than Peavy, but that likely would have required them to surrender Jackie Bradley Jr. He was wallowing in Triple-A at the time, after a lackluster 37-game start to his Major League career. If the Red Sox had moved on from Bradley for the sake of a championship run, it’s difficult to imagine they would have faced a lot of blowback. 

But the Red Sox held onto Bradley, refusing to include him in the Peavy trade or other deals. Four months later, they won the World Series, and four years later, Bradley is a bonafide star. 

It’s an important lesson to learn as the Red Sox approach the trade deadline with a three-game lead in the American League East and the worst third base production in the league (lowest OPS in the AL). While they may be currently bidding against themselves for veteran masher Todd Frazier, it only takes one other team to drive up the price. The cries to land Frazier and his all-or-nothing bat will probably only grow louder with each passing day.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski rarely exudes control when it comes to trading away prospects, but before pulling the trigger on any deal this month, he should think back to the discipline it required to keep Bradley. The center fielder was seemingly on the trade block for three years, getting mentioned in deadline deals up until 2015 –– when he was in the minor leagues following his third failed big league stint. Then-general manager Ben Cherington still refused to trade Bradley, even though his value was torpedoing. 

Bradley returned to the big leagues that August, hitting .354 with an 1.163 OPS. He smashed 26 home runs last season and has been one of the Red Sox’ best hitters since June 1 (battling line of .318/.328/.519). 

And as he once again showed Sunday night, he’s maybe the best defensive outfielder in the game, too. 

As left-hander Henry Owens proves, being too conservative with prospects can also burn an organization. Once believed to be the best arm in the Red Sox' farm system, the 24-year-old left-hander is back down in Double-A, where he allowed six earned runs in four innings Sunday. 

But it’s not always worth mocking if a team opts to keep its prospects instead of shipping them off for an ancillary deadline part. With Rafael Devers waiting in the wings, and the August waiver wire, there’s little reason to overpay for Frazier. 

Bradley’s potent bat and jaw-dropping glove offers all the proof you need to know that. 

Reporting from Rob Bradford contributed to this story. 

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