Priority one this offseason for Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is dumping Milton Bradley, and trying to eat as little salary as possible in the process. Always easier when the player in question is a total chode and he finished the season suspended for said chode-ness.

To make matters worse, the possible locations for Bradley are thinning by the day. First there was the Rangers, Bradley’s successful employer last year. But they’ve said there’s no chance. Then there was the Padres – also a former Bradley stopover – but those chances decreased dramatically when GM Kevin Towers got the boot. And then there was the Royals, who tried to trade for Bradley two years ago. But their beat writer recently used the word “idiots” to describe those of us who suggested the Royals. So. Yeah. Probably not them either.

Lord in heaven, will nobody take Milton Bradley’s acursed soul from off our stained hands?!?!?

Ah… the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays competed with the Cubs this past offseason for Bradley’s services (oops), but instead opted for the cheaper, more right-handed, more sane Pat Burrell (oops). Burrell received one fewer year, and a couple million bucks fewer per year on his deal, and he earned every one of those fewer dollars. That is to say: he sucked.

So maybe he’d fit in as a Cub. Bradley for Burrell, anybody?

Sources say the Cubs have been pushing the Tampa Bay Rays for a quick deal. The Rays were one of Bradley’s top suitors last winter until the Cubs let the world know they had a three-year, $30 million offer on the table. The Rays loved Bradley’s on-base magic and manager Joe Maddon is so self-assured — to a fault — he believed he could handle Bradley’s unique personality as deftly as Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington did in 2008.

The Rays emerged as potential trade partners because they are looking to shed their own deal gone bad. After losing out on Bradley last winter, the Rays signed outfielder Pat Burrell to a two-year, $16 million contract. Burrell attracted the Rays’ attention for his power potential and his consistently high on-base percentage. His OBP in 2008 was .367, a year after it was .400. His OBP was .365 or higher every season since 2004.
Then it dropped to .315 this season as Burrell made a rough transition to designated hitter. He hit just .221 with 14 home runs and 64 RBI. And the Rays are looking for a place to dump the body.

Enter the Cubs.

Burrell, 32, is officially owed $9 million next season, though $2 million of his salary was paid in advance. Bradley is owed $9 million next season and $12 million in 2011. So the Cubs could repay the Rays some of the $2 million advanced to Burrell and pay some or all of the 2011 Bradley salary to get off the hook relatively cheaply. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

I know that's a Phillies picture, but who could resist posting this shirtless wonder?

This kind of swap is probably the most realistic option, but it comes with an irony: the Cubs would like to move Bradley, save some money, and fill his spot in right field (or center field if Kosuke Fukudome slides over) with a big, middle of the order bat. And if they trade Bradley in a bad contract swap for a guy like Burrell, well, Burrell is kind of necessarily going to become that bat. Which could be a recipe for a barrel full of disappointment.

If the deal happens quickly enough, however, it could allow the Cubs to make a move at another spot – second base, for example. Jeff Baker played well enough to deserve starting consideration, but for whatever reason, Chone Figgins is the flavor of the month. Expect the Cubs to give him a long look.

  • Lok

    I lived in Philly until last year and saw a lot of Pat “The Bat”. He used to swing at everything and at one point (before Howard and Utley emerged) he was the face of the franchise. I met the guy twice as well. Typical type-A personality sport player, but he’s never shown signs of bat-shit craziness that we have w/ the monopoly guy, so I’d love to see this trade. Not to mention, his numbers dropped because he went to the best division in baseball (AL East). Pat’s calmed down a lot behind the plate. Put him in Wrigley and I’d look for .270ish, 30 or so HR’s, 80+ RBI.

    • Ace

      Eh – I don’t know that I buy the dip in stats being due to the AL East when it’s on the offensive side. If it were a straight up swap (i.e., Cubs eat nothing additional in salary), I’d definitely do it.

      • Lok

        Really? He’s going against pitchers like Sabathia, Burnett, Becket, Lester, Halloday…

        With the NL he was seeing (at best) Santana. I’m not saying the guy is going to turn into “The Hawk” if he came to our club, but I think his production would come up to normal MLB numbers (and we’d be getting rid of the headcase!)

        • Ace

          You’ve got a point – though I’m not convinced that the pitching in the AL East is THAT much better (I mean, look at the ridiculous dip in his stats) than the NL East. And it’s not as if he didn’t have a great lineup around him.

          I’m fairly ambivalent about Burrell to be honest.

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