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That’s because the third year is kind of an option. Word floated around when Bradley was signed that there was “protection on the back-end” of the deal for the Cubs if Bradley was injured in the first two years (a move popularized by the Detroit Tigers’ genius signing of Magglio Ordonez, coming off massive knee problems, when other teams *cough Cubs* were too pansy to take the risk… remember that? Remembering things is fun… sorry… back to the outside of the parenthetical).

Well now we’re finally getting some word on that protection for the Cubs.

After actually viewing Milton Bradley’s contract, it appears to be a $20 million, two-year deal, not a $30 million, three-year guarantee as has been widely reported (including here). While it’s very likely Bradley gets the $30 million, the complicated agreement appears to suggest that he needs to spend fewer than 75 days on the disabled list in 2009 to guarantee the full amount. And that’s no guarantee for Bradley, especially with him having to play the outfield.  SI.com.

It’s also no guarantee of health for the Cubs. Last year, despite only playing in 115 games, Bradley didn’t spend a single day on the disabled list. More after the jump.

So there’s a huge distinction there to note that I’d love to see more detail on: does the clause guarantee Bradley the third year if he doesn’t miss 75 games due to injury, or if he actually spends 75 days on the DL?

For now, it sounds like the latter. Which sounds like very little protection for the Cubs.

It also creates the perverse incentive to place Bradley on the DL if he’s getting close to that magic number later in the season. Would the Cubs risk putting Bradley on the DL for 15 days if they think he’ll be healthy in 10? Maybe not, but now it will be a part of the calculus, which is just not something you want managment to have to consider.

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