Archie Bradley has been slated to start the Diamondbacks’ exhibition game in Australia. Considering the Diamondbacks are trying to make an organizational impact in Australia, taking Bradley is a great idea. His pitching is impressive, and he is a physical specimen. This is also a good opportunity for Bradley to get comfortable with the team in case of a call-up later this year. This decision does not mean that Archie Bradley will start the season in the majors, in fact, I will explain why it likely means the opposite.
The D-backs are trying to make a positive impression on prospective Australian fans. Archie seems like the perfect player to showcase — he’s a flame-throwing righty with a great curveball. The fans will be amazed by his scintillating fastball, and astounded by his majestic curveball. Okay, maybe that’s just how I feel about Bradley’s stuff. But surely the fans will recognize the talent Bradley possesses. He’s also built like a rugby player, which can only help Australian fans in becoming enamored with him.
Even if the fans overseas don’t fall in love with Bradley, they will hopefully remember him. Then when he gets called up to the major leagues and develops into one of the premier pitchers in baseball, he will have fans in Australia. As a by-product, more eyes will be on the D-backs, and hopefully that leads to increased revenue or a larger fan base.
This will also give Bradley a chance to travel with the team, and get even more comfortable with his surroundings. He has already spent a few weeks with the team, but another week surely can’t hurt. Hopefully this allows him achieve a certain comfort level, so when he does finally get called up, he can focus on pitching.
Despite this decision, Archie Bradley will still begin the season in the minor leagues. If the plan was to have Bradley start the season in the rotation, it would make little sense to make him travel almost forty hours before his first major league season. The team would be more likely to have him stay in Arizona, just like the other starters that are not traveling with the team. It just doesn’t make sense to subject a young guy to hours upon hours of travel for a meaningless game before he’s about to start his major league career. Bradley making the team as a reliever would be equally confusing. The roster is full of competent relievers; it’s a shame that Will Harris will likely start the season in triple-A.
But, here’s the biggest reason Bradley won’t start the season in the majors: he would become a free agent before the 2020 season instead of before the 2021 season. The Diamondbacks need to prevent Bradley from getting 172 days of service time this year in order to keep him through the 2021 season. If they call him up in late April but before mid-June (let’s say June 15), he will be eligible for arbitration for four of the seven years (2018-2021) by being a “Super Two” guy. If they wait after June 15, then he will be arbitration-eligible for his final three years. One extra year of Archie Bradley could be worth $20 million in 2020. Or maybe even more. Let’s wait a few months just in case Bradley turns out to be something worth keeping around.
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