Bobby Bradley remained in Columbus while the Cleveland Indians are fighting for their playoff lives. What does this mean about his future in Cleveland?
Earlier this season it appeared that Bobby Bradley was the heir apparent at first base or the designated hitter position. Since then the Indians acquired Franmil Reyes who looks locked in to be the Indians designated hitter for the foreseeable future. Carlos Santana is still under contract for one more season and will play first base during that time. Currently there does not appear to be a spot open in Cleveland for at least one more season. With that it seems like Bobby Bradley may have a future elsewhere.
Bobby Bradley had a brief stint with the Indians earlier this year. While he showed he can hit the ball really far, he still was plagued by the same issue he has in the minors. Strikeouts. Bradley struck out 20 times in 45 at-bats and was optioned to Columbus. Normally this is forgivable as long as the batter is hitting for power but Bradley was not doing that either.
Barring any trades, Cleveland will be bringing back Carlos Santana and Franmil Reyes next season. Those are two spots in the lineup that would go to Bobby Bradley. Add in the fact that the team will most likely try to work Jake Bauers back into the lineup and that is another spot that is now gone for Bradley. There is also the fact that Bauers is more versatile than Bradley which is what the Indians need right now. Bauers’ ability to play at both first base and the outfield is more valuable than Bradley’s first base and designated hitter profile. If Cleveland thought that Bobby Bradley could provide the offense they are looking for after Tyler Naquin’s season ending ACL injury and the injuries to Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez they would have called him up. The fact that they did not should signal what is thought of Bradley.
Bobby Bradley strikes out a ton
As mentioned above, Bradley struck out 20 times in 45 at-bats with Cleveland. In Columbus Bradley struck out 153 times in 402 at-bats. This is slightly over 38% of his at-bats. Of the MLB players (entering September 19th 2019) who have struck out as much or more than Bradley this season, only four have done so with less than 500 at-bats. In fact, of the 18 players with 150 strikeouts or more so far, only four have less than 500 at-bats. Only two players have less walks than Bradley in this group.
If a major reduction in his strikeout frequency occurs and he increases his walk rate it would be wise to give him a shot at the Major League level. The only problem is that does not appear to be something that will be improved upon all that much. Bradley strikes out so much in AAA that it figures to only increase when he faces superior pitching at the Major League level. Add in the fact he appears to be a one dimensional player, his struggles in the Majors could continue.
Cleveland kept Bobby Bradley in AAA while fighting for the playoffs
With the Indians working their way back into the playoff race the final month Bobby Bradley will not get the opportunities with the big league club that he would in previous years. If the Tribe were ahead in the divisional race or completely out of the playoff picture Bradley would get his chances to show what he’s got. Unfortunately that is not the case in this point in time.
If Bobby Bradley could play the outfield or third base he would get a chance down the stretch. Yu Chang is only getting a shot because of the injury to Jose Ramirez. Chang plays a position that the Indians have a need for, Bradley does not. Jake Bauers got the call because again, he can play a position of need (outfield).
What does the future hold for Bobby Bradley?
Now there is the question of what to do with Bobby Bradley after this season. Cleveland has first base and DH position pretty much set in stone. Carlos Santana and Franmil Reyes seemed locked into those spots with Jake Bauers potentially getting a shot next season to open the season. Bradley will also have his chance to make the team out of Spring Training. But again, the problem is the position (or lack thereof) that he plays.
There appears to be a logjam at any immediate opening for Bradley next season. It is very possible that Bradley starts 2020 in Columbus again. With how things look for next season they have some decisions to make, including a possible trade. Will the Cleveland Indians trade Bobby Bradley? Only time will tell. Cleveland has previously traded away the likes of Jesus Aguilar and Yandy Diaz when in similar situations. Aguilar showed some promise for the Brewers last season before returning to his previous form this season. Diaz on the other hand provided immediate dividends to the Tampa Bay Rays. Although just how productive he is in the future remains to be seen.
The Indians need to do their due diligence in regards to Bobby Bradley and evaluate any and all options in regards to his status. This includes other players who have the ability to play first base and any trades worth considering. With players hitting home runs at an all-time rate, finding a 20+ home run hitter seems to much easier than in years past. If a trade of Bradley brings in someone at a position of need it is definitely worth considering.