Red Sox fans woke up on Thursday morning to yet another player leaving, as Jackie Bradley Jr. packed his bags for Wisconsin.
Bradley signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers this week. Jackie’s return to Boston seemed less and less likely as the offseason went on, with teams like Houston and the Mets also showing interest in the 30 year old center fielder.
JBJ’s new colors draw an era of Red Sox history to a close. Not just because the Sox lost their #1 CF over the last decade, but he was also the last one remaining from the 2018 Champion, “Win Dance Repeat” outfield.
Superman in the Outfield
After being called up in 2013, Bradley Jr. became notorious for his highlight reel catches and his cannon of an arm in center. Fans could always expect a JBJ catch or throw to home to fill their Twitter feeds. Jackie made the 2016 AL All-Star team, hitting .267 and 26 HRs while also having a 29 game hitting streak early in the season. JBJ won his first Gold Glove in 2018 after being snubbed in previous years, one of the many pieces of hardware he claimed that season.
Not well known for his presence at the plate, no one could have expected JBJ’s strong performance in the 2018 American League Championship Series. It all started in Game 2, when Jackie slapped a three-run double against the monster to give the Sox the lead. This was a huge moment in the series, as it prevented Boston from going down 2-0 before heading to Houston. Down in H-Town, Bradley left his mark again with a grand slam in Game 3 and a two-run homer in Game 4 which would give the Sox the lead. JBJ went only 3 for 15 in the series but without those 3 hits, the Sox might have not prevailed against the Astros. Jackie took home ALCS MVP as Boston would go on to win the World Series.
Closing the Farm
Bradley Jr. was a homegrown player for Boston. He was drafted in the 2011 MLB Draft, the same draft the Red Sox drafted Mookie Betts. These two ended up creating one of the best outfields in baseball along with Andrew Benintendi, another Red Sox selection from the 2015 Draft. This trio became known for their post win dances in 2016, known as “Win Dance Repeat.” All three of these guys were also core pieces to the 2018 World Series run, as each had iconic moments along the way. With the exit of Betts via trade to LA, the dominos started to fall. With a new GM in Chaim Bloom, it was clear that a new look was coming to Boston. Benintendi was dealt to Kansas City in February, as JBJ’s signing is coming just a month after. Losing two fan favorites in just two months, it is clear that a memorable era in Sox history has now come to a close.
Jackie Bradley Jr. will always be remembered by this generation of fans for not just his defensive talent and hustle on the field, but also his big smile and great personality off it. Excited to see the Brew Crew come to Boston someday for Jackie to get his much deserved ovation.
Thanks for everything, JBJ. Go kill it in the navy and gold.