EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 25, 2013

Sox option -- don't start year with Bradley Jr. at Fenway

The same poll question is appearing on almost every Boston sports website:

Should Jackie Bradley Jr. make the Red Sox Opening Day roster?

A) Yes

B) No

I pick B, which might sound bizarre because I’ve said before that the Red Sox keep some prospects in the minors too long while other teams such as the 2012 Baltimore Orioles — who promoted 20-year-old Manny Machado without any Triple-A experience — have benefitted greatly from promoting and relying on young talent.

Let’s face it: The 2013 Red Sox are a long shot to make the playoffs. It’s more crucial now than ever to keep an eye on the future.

Bradley Jr. — along with Xander Bogaerts, Allen Webster and Matt Barnes — is a big part of Boston’s future.

Therefore, Boston GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell should agree that it is in the best interest of the organization to keep Bradley in a Red Sox uniform for as long as possible, meaning through at least the 2019 season and not just 2018.

The Red Sox could get an extra year out of Bradley by assigning him to Triple-A Pawtucket to start this year and promoting him to Boston on April 11 or later.

“The major goal for all organizations is to develop impact players that an organization has control of during their prime years,” Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett told The Eagle-Tribune last year.

Crockett is right. The fundamental goal — for both big and small market major league teams — is to build from within before turning to free agency and to keep homegrown players in the organization for as long as possible at a reasonable salary.

Boston needs Bradley in his prime for seven years, not six.

A player is granted free agency for the first time if he is not under contact after his sixth season. A player completes a full major league season when on the big league club’s active roster for 172 days during one season.

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