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Jackie Bradley Jr. : The Decision

The possibility of the Red Sox talented prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. joining the major league club will last another day. The Red Sox are still having trouble working out contract negotiations with Ryan Sweeney. According to the Boston Herald, these talks can take up until Sunday when the big league rosters have to become official. This will be a factor in whether Bradley will be called up or not. At least that is how I look at the situation.

Other sources such as The Boston Globe feel Bradley has already made the team. Although Bradley has not been told anything of that nature yet. The 22 year old prospect has hit .444 with nine walks and 12 RBI in 71 plate appearances. This alone seems like enough for Bradley to make the team out of Spring Training. However, there is more to this than just baseball. The business side of the game is showing up at an inopportune time for the Red Sox. They are left with the decision to wait 11 days to call Bradley up to delay his free agency another year sometime in the future.

This isn't Boston's only option though. The Red Sox have the option of calling Bradley up for Opening Day against the Yankees and then sending him down at some point in the season to help delay his arbitration clock. The only problem with this scenario is that the Red Sox risk sending down a player who might be having a good season. Baseball Nation's own Rob Neyer seems to feel that the risk is not worth the gain.

But if Jackie Bradley Jr.'s batting .286 in July or August and the Red Sox send him down, the Players Association will file a grievance and they'll probably win. Would Bradley be sitting on .286 in July or August? Probably not. He probably would be hitting low enough at some point in June or July or August that you could send him down for a few weeks "to work on some stuff" and nobody would squawk too loudly.

Why take that chance, though? Three weeks of Jackie Bradley Jr. is highly unlikely to make the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. So unless money's not an object, this is an easy call: You send him to Pawtucket and wait for him to force you to give him an every-day job in the majors.

I agree with Neyer that a few weeks without Bradley isn't going to be the reason the Red Sox miss the playoffs. Although, the Red Sox are well aware that you can lose the division in the first two weeks of the season after 2011. To be fair though, the Red Sox struggled both at the beginning and the end of the season. So again, the absence of Bradley at the start of the year will likely not matter too much.

For now the Red Sox can rely on an outfield filled with Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, and Daniel Nava. And pending the re-signing of Ryan Sweeney, Boston could have a decent outfielder off bench. I didn't mention Jonny Gomes because he'll probably be the Opening Day DH because David Ortiz is out with an injury. Which brings up the unanswerable question at the moment.

When David Ortiz returns, will there be enough at bats for both Bradley and Gomes if Bradley were to be called up?

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