It would seem that Jackie Bradley Jr. has played his last game for the Red Sox.
There's nothing official, of course. But Bradley hit the free-agent market late last month and never received an extension offer from the club. Plus, when a player gets as far as free agency, it's rare for him to re-sign with his former club.
The only other option in the free-agent class is George Springer, and while he's been a far better offensive performer than Bradley, he's also a year older than Bradley and will be seeking a lengthy and costly contract. And, because the Astros presented him with a qualifying offer, signing him would cost the Sox their second-round draft pick next July along with $500,000 in international bonus money.
The good news for the Red Sox is they have someone in their minor league system who projects as Bradley's long-term replacement. Jarren Duran has plus-plus speed and is an accomplished defender -- despite, like MookieBetts before him, not making the transition from second base to the outfield until after he was drafted by the Sox.
The bad news is, the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season makes it that much more challenging to determine whether Duran is ready to make the leap to the big leagues.
"It's a tough one, in a good way,'' said chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, "because he had a tremendous 2020. And he made strides hitting-wise and physically...he didn't lose any of his speed. He just had a really good year. (But) for all players who didn't play at the major league level -- and even some of those who did, because we had a shorter season -- it's tougher to feel confident about what you know about them.''