The Red Sox appear unlikely to sign a free agent outfielder, meaning Jackie Bradley, Jr. will likely be the team's full-time starter in center field even if he falters a bit, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Bradley has been the assumed starter in center field since former starter Jacoby Ellsbury signed with the Yankees. However, he has played in just 37 major league games, leading to talk that Boston could bring in a platoon-mate for the left-handed hitting Bradley.
Rajai Davis had been an option for the Red Sox, but he signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Tigers last week. No other free agents on the market appeal to Boston as there are few center fielders who deserve consistent playing time at a price the team could afford.
Bradley, 23, was Boston's first round draft pick in 2011. In parts of three minor league seasons, he has a .297/.404/.471 line with decent speed and some pop in his bat. He entered 2013 ranked the No. 31 prospect in the nation by Baseball America. By mid-season, he had moved up to No. 21.
However, Bradley struggled in a few brief major-league call-ups last year. In 107 total plate appearances, he batted just .189 with a 617 OPS. He was a little better late in the season after September roster expansion, hitting for a .243/.317/.378 line, but even that was not an inspiring stint. Bradley may be better with steady playing time, however, and his defense should provide value in center field.
For now, the Red Sox appear content to let him take over with no back-up option. If it proves too early for him to start, Boston could move Gold Glove right fielder Shane Victorino to center and play both Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava on the corners. For now, those four and Mike Carp are the only outfielders on the roster.