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Everything you need to know when trying to figure out if Jackie Bradley Jr. is going to make the Red Sox

03.14.13 at 3:08 pm ET
By

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Wondering what the Red Sox are weighing when thinking about promoting Jackie Bradley Jr. to the Opening Day roster?

Here’s the deal …

Because Bradley Jr. isn’t on the 40-man roster entering the season (and has never been afforded options), his timetable is different than a player already on the 40-man when it comes to figuring out his free agent clock.

Because of his 40-man status (or lack thereof), Bradley Jr. can reach free agency after the 2018 season if he is on the major league roster prior to April 12 and remains in the big leagues for the next six seasons without going back down to the minor leagues for as many as a collective 20 days. Yet, even if he starts with the big club prior to April 12 and ends up spending the 20 or more days in the minors, free agency eligibility won’t come until after ’19.

If the Red Sox wait until April 12 (or after) to call-up Bradley Jr. then the earliest he will be able to hit free agency is after ’19.

Bradley Jr. is currently hitting .536 with a 1.343 OPS in 33 plate appearances.

Here are some more pertinent items to consider when contemplating the introduction of Bradley Jr. into the major leagues:

‘€ª– If the season were to begin tomorrow, Bradley almost surely would not be in the big leagues, even with his spectacular spring performance to date. The jump to the majors with only 61 games of Double-A experience and no time in Triple-A represents a fairly enormous one for a position player. The team is exercising some caution while looking at Bradley’s excellent spring performance given the difficult nature of accurate evaluations in a time of year that rarely resembles what happens when the curtain lifts on the big league season.

‘€ª– Still, while at least one team official expressed definitively that Bradley would not be on the Opening Day roster as recently as last week, other team sources have suggested in recent days that, while unlikely for now, the possibility can’t be ruled out definitively given the expected absence of David Ortiz from the Opening Day roster. Other aspects of the roster could play into that as well, of course — if there was an injury to one of the team’s starting outfielders between now and Opening Day, the likelihood of Bradley being in the big leagues on April 1 would increase considerably.

‘€ª– Bradley will only be promoted to the big leagues when he is assured of an everyday role there. He won’t be a part-timer who platoons, serves as a bench/role player or is in some other kind of time share. So: Bradley would only be a consideration for a call-up, realistically, if he was one of the best nine players in the organization, and worthy of an everyday spot, at the end of spring training. The team won’t compromise the playing time necessary to further his development, regardless of the level at which he’ll open the year.

‘€ª– The Sox are operating on the presumption that he will be called up at some point in 2013. Thus, while there had been some thought that, for the purposes of managing the 40-man roster, he might be kept in the minors all year (as a 2011 first-round draft pick out of college, Bradley does not have to be added to the 40-man roster for reasons of protecting him from the Rule 5 draft until after the 2014 season) in order to protect other players who will be Rule 5 eligible after 2013, that notion has gone out the window.

‘€ª– The Sox don’t feel like burning one of three potential option years on him in 2013 (if the team should call him up to start the year and then send him down) would be an issue, since there is a consensus that Bradley will be done with the minors before (and perhaps long before) exhausting his minor league options. ‘€¬

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