Jackie Bradley Jr. could return to Boston, but it’s far from a sure thing, said Chaim Bloom. “We remain hopeful that we’ll be able to find a fit with Jackie and we also recognize that that may not happen.” John Amis/Associated Press

After trading Andrew Benintendi, the Red Sox conceivably could have created room to bring back Jackie Bradley Jr. But Wednesday night’s deal wasn’t made with that in mind, according to chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

Andrew Benintendi, left, is now with the Royals, and it’s not clear yet where Jackie Bradley Jr. will land. David J. Phillip/Associated Press

With just more than a week until pitchers and catchers report for spring training, Bradley remains a free agent. As it stands, the Red Sox outfield includes Alex Verdugo, Hunter Renfroe and Franchy Cordero, part of Wednesday’s deal who seems likely to replace Benintendi in left field. Verdugo is the favorite to assume center field after playing right last season, and while Bradley could still return at the right price, but Bloom said it’s not more likely just because they traded Benintendi.

“We remain hopeful that we’ll be able to find a fit with Jackie and we also recognize that that may not happen. We’re going to stay engaged there and see how that plays out, but the two were somewhat separate for us as we looked at this because the fit with Cordero was so clean in terms of how we put our roster together,” Bloom said.

If a reunion with Bradley Jr. doesn’t happen, the Red Sox seem comfortable with Verdugo playing center. Verdugo has made 76 career appearances there, including one last season and 61 with the Dodgers in 2019.

And if Bradley doesn’t return, it will mean the popular outfield trio of Mookie Betts, Bradley and Benintendi that helped them win a championship in 2018 and played together in 2019 will be completely gone.

“If you scripted that out and said this is where we would be on February 10th, 2021, and also told me there was going to be a global pandemic, I would have said, ‘What are you talking about?'” Red Sox General Manager Brian O’Halloran said. “You can’t predict these things and I wouldn’t have predicted it, but we are where we are and as we’ve gone along, as Chaim has talked about both following the Mookie Betts trade and again here tonight, we try to make moves that we think make sense for the club in our big-picture goals while we try to compete and compete for a championship every year.”


Franchy Cordero, acquired by the Red Sox in the Andrew Benintendi trade, can play all three outfield positions, and with some uncertainty in how the Red Sox will configure their outfield, that versatility should be valuable. Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

THE RED SOX believed Andrew Benintendi was poised for a bounce-back 2021 season, but with another opportunity to bolster the farm system by trading Benintendi, Bloom jumped on it.

In return, the Red Sox get a major league-ready outfielder in Cordero, a 22-year-old minor-league pitcher with upside in Josh Winckowski, and three more prospects the Red Sox will identify with more scouting.

“We know that in the long run, any organization is going to be only as good as its pipeline,” Bloom said. “That’s true no matter what your market size is. That’s true no matter what your payroll is. And that’s something we need to address. So when these opportunities come up, you’re always looking at those trade-offs, you always have to be looking for opportunities to add to that pipeline.”

The main piece in the return for Benintendi is Cordero, who figures to be the only player of the five who will make an impact in 2021.

Cordero signed with the San Diego Padres as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2011 and made his MLB debut in 2017. But injuries have derailed the 26-year-old’s potential, including a wrist injury that limited him to just 16 games in last year’s pandemic-shortened season. In 95 career games, Cordero has a .236 batting average with 12 home runs.

With three years of team control remaining and a cost of $800,000 in 2021, Cordero was worth the gamble to put it all together in Boston. He’s only 58 days younger than Benintendi but has played in 390 fewer games. Still, he’ll have every opportunity to replace him as an everyday player in the outfield.


“Certainly he is not as established,” Bloom said. “I think just a series of different injuries, a lot of which seem to have kind of a freak nature to them, have led to him spending a good amount of time in the big leagues without getting on the field all that much, but we are very optimistic about how his talent will play when he does get out there and optimistic and hopeful that we can keep him out there for a lot longer than he has been historically. And also feel there’s untapped upside there that he’s shown at certain points, especially last summer that we’re hopeful will lead to more accomplishment.”

Cordero, who led the minor leagues in triples in 2016 and 2017, possesses speed that should be a benefit wherever he plays in the outfield. The 6-foot-3, 226-pounder has always had raw power, but Baseball America noted that his lack of pitch recognition has diminished his ability to make contact and take advantage of his physical gifts. If he can stay healthy, he’ll have a chance to gain consistency.

Cordero can play all three outfield positions, and with some uncertainty in how the Red Sox will configure their outfield, that versatility should be valuable. The Red Sox will have a better idea on how they’ll use him as they get familiar with him during spring training.

“I think just being a left-handed hitting outfielder, as far as how the club is configured, he’s a very different type of player from Benny, but I think he can step right into that role,” Bloom said. “Obviously we need to get to know him in all ways and just see exactly the role he can play. But historically, he’s been a guy who can play all three outfield positions, who brings a power bat from the left side, hits the ball about as hard as anybody in the big leagues, and so he should be able to fit in terms of how our roster functions very similarly.

“The exact role, when he plays, how he’s used, that’s something as we get to know him, Alex (Cora) is going to figure out what works best for the club, but we know he’s capable of playing all over the outfield and really impacting the baseball.”

Winckowski, meanwhile, may be years away from making a big-league impact, but he’s a pitcher the Red Sox have monitored. This is the second time the 22-year-old has been traded in two weeks, first being dealt from the Blue Jays to the Mets in the Steven Matz trade on Jan. 27.

Winckowski was rated as the No. 20 prospect in the Mets’ system after that trade. The 6-foot-4 right-hander was touching 96 mph with his four-seam fastball during instructional league last summer with the Blue Jays, according to Baseball America, and he has a repertoire that includes a split-finger fastball. He’s a potential starter down the line and should see time in Double-A with the Portland Sea Dogs, or maybe in Worcester in Triple-A.

“He’s been primarily a fastball-slider (pitcher), but he has a couple different fastballs,” Bloom said. “He’s had a change-up in the past during instructional league. This year he’s working on a splitter, which showed some promise. (With velocity), he’s gotten it up there to the high-90s at times. He’s worked as a starter. We want to get our arms around him, get to know him, but this is a type of guy who there is a lot of different ways his career can go. He’s not a finished product yet. But he has a really good chance to impact the major league staff in some capacity.”

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