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Here at Bleacher Nation, we consider it our duty to report any and all rumors involving the Chicago Cubs, no matter how unlikely. Frankly, that’s how we get involved in these obsessive watches.

That said, many of the “rumors” are not, strictly speaking, actually rumors. They are ideas, offered by journalists and other experts in the field, based on a series of considerations and conclusions that simply make sense. They are more of a this-is-not-actually-a-rumor-but-it-should-be-because-it-makes-too-much-sense-given-what-I-know type rumor. But I’m not going to type that every time, so you’ll just have to settle for “rumor.”

With that in mind, it occurred to me recently: why have there been no rumors linking the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves, with respect to Milton Bradley?

The Atlanta Braves, quietly, are in the market for a corner outfield bat to insert into the middle of their lineup. Naturally, the Cubs themselves faced this very kind of search last year, and probably would not be in the best position to recommend Bradley as a middle of the lineup type of hitter. Then again, Bradley’s dip in power production in 2009 seems like more of an exception rather than the rule. Bradley’s greatest strength, to be sure, is his discipline at the plate, but he will always bring a certain measure of pop.

The Atlanta Braves, not so quietly, are also in the market to move one of their starting pitchers. After locking up Tim Hudson to an extension, the Braves now have six clear starting pitchers for five starting spots. Could they place a guy in the bullpen? Sure. But they would obviously prefer to move one of the starters. Most of the rumors thus far (and they’ve been surprisingly sparse) have centered on Javier Vazquez, and why wouldn’t they? He’s set to make a healthy $11.5 million this year. But then again, he was absolutely dominant for the Braves in 2009 – sporting a 2.87 ERA and a 143 ERA+. If they are going to move Vazquez, they’ll move him to get top talent, not simply to dump a starting pitcher.

They would prefer, if at all possible, to instead trade Derek Lowe. Lowe, 36, was improvidently signed to a four year deal by the Braves before the 2009 season, which will pay him $15 million per year over the next three years. That albatross of a contract would seemingly make trading Lowe an impossibility. Unless, of course, it was for another albatross. Er, another albatross of a contract.

Enter the Cubs and Milton Bradley. Bradley’s contract, to be sure, is less egregious than Lowe’s. Bradley is owed just $21 million over the next two years, so the money may not be a perfect fit. Then again, if the Cubs are presently willing to eat as much as $15 million of Bradley’s deal just to dump him, then a hypothetical Bradley/Lowe swap can be thought of as the Cubs getting Lowe for $30 million over three years as opposed to $45 million.

But would the Cubs actually want Lowe? Lowe, unlike Vazquez, was largely ineffective in his first year with the Braves. He put up a 4.67 ERA, and an 88 OPS+ (recall, 100 is average). Of course, in the four consecutive years before 2009, he had been quite good. Was 2009 the beginning of the end, or a blip on the radar? Hard to know for sure.

With Rich Harden on the way out, and Ted Lilly rehabbing from shoulder surgery, the Cubs are thin in the starting pitching ranks. For all the talk about the lineup, no one wants to seem to mention the fact that the Cubs are set to open the 2010 season with a rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, and two question marks. Might Jeff Samardzija and Tom Gorzelanny, for example, fill those question marks adequately? Maybe. But might Randy Wells, himself, be something of a question mark after coming out of nowhere last year? Maybe. Might the Cubs be open to adding another starting pitcher? Maybe. And they probably should be.

It is possible that the Braves have absolutely no interest in Milton Bradley, regardless of need or fit, and the discussion ends there. But if they’d consider it for a moment, I think they’d find this makes a lot of sense. So I guess it’s a “rumor.”

  • http://tenprairiesticks.wordpress.com xolager

    I like the way you think.

    Somewhat unrelated, but I was in Cincy last year for a Reds/Braves game, and I was taking in BP from the outfield seats as Lowe was getting his between-starts work in. When he was done his pitching workout, he’d stand in deep right field, eye up second base, and fire the ball. I didn’t see him miss second base once. Of course, this isn’t at all a measure of his pitching ability, but it was fun to watch. :-)

    • Ace

      That’s unbelievable. If only that were a sport.

  • KB

    If we have to take on a bad contract, I suppose we could do worse than Lowe.

    • Ace

      We could do a hell of a lot worse.

      His name is Gary Matthews, Junior.

  • KB

    Ace, please don’t freak me out like that. Trading for Mathews would make me physically sick.

    • Ace

      I’m already trembling.

  • burnedstang

    As a braves fan, i just dont see this happening. Yes, bobby cox has had some success with a few clubhouse cancer’s, mainly sheffield, but, i just dont think Bradley is what the braves are looking for. He’s not a prototypical cleanup hitter. The braves are looking for someone who will hit 30+ Hr’s, and drive in runs. I just dont see the braves taking on bradley, especially since he wouldnt be a good fit. But, there would be more shocking things to happen..who knows

  • OKGA

    As a Braves fan, I wouldn’t mind this deal at all. Bradley’s contract is less than half of Lowe’s (you have to look at it with that in mind) & they certainly need some OF pop, which Bradley provides. He does seem like the most uncontrollable player in baseball right now, but I think he can get along in Atlanta…….not sure why, but I think for 2 years, the Braves could deal with him. I’d be all for an even trade (with Atlanta absorbing none of Lowe’s salary).

  • Brian

    I proposed this same type of deal yesterday at mlbtraderumors.com when Lowe was the topic. Here is what I wrote:

    What about a Derek Lowe and Kelly Johnson for Milton Bradley and something deal? For Atlanta, they save $25 mil on Lowe vs Bradley and Johnson is a guy they’ll end up non-tendering that the Cubs could use. They can use that $$ for other spots and also get a upgrade in the outfield, assuming Bobby Cox can get Bradely motivated. Atlanta seems like a nice fit.

    For the Cubs, they rid themselves of Bradley and pick up an innings-eater in Lowe that only costs them $25 mil over the next 3 years assuming they had to eat Bradley’s contract anyways. Plus, Johnson could use a change of scenary, fills a position 2b they need and also hits left-handed, something they’ve been looking for.

    Since then, I summized that perhaps the Braves could ask for Kevin Gregg to go along with Bradley. The cubs are committed to Marmol and the Braves could lose both Soriano and Gonzalez. Seems to make sense from both sides.

    • Ace

      Gregg is a free agent, so he won’t be involved in anything.

      Johnson would be an interesting part of the discussion, but only if the Cubs are certain to let Mike Fontenot walk.

  • burnedstang

    i still just dont think this is the type of player we need in the order… we have plenty of 280 avg and 15hr guys, we need a bigger bat than bradely

  • http://mlb.com BigAlPetty

    I would not mind Bradley in ATL. Like has been stated, we need the POP in the lineup, and he’s reasonably priced. I think Bradley would fit in here in ATL. I seem to remember another guy who was hard to deal with and nothing much was ever heard out of him during his days in Atlanta…Sheffield?

    And don’t expect to hear much out of the Braves camp about what deals are in the works. I think Wren learned the hard way that it’s best to keep your mouth shut until the deal is done.

  • http://DavidO'Brien'sBravesBlog northbeach Scott

    A d-bag like Milton Bradley will never be allowed to play for the Braves. The Cubbies are stuck. Better to have an extra starter than to throw him away for someone else’s problems.

    Also, as the Cubbies found out, Bradley has only played in over 126 games in one season once, once in 10 years. Not healthy.

    Finally, Bradley is no longer a viable MLB outfielder. He is a DH with an attitude problem. How would he fit as a corner OF for the Braves? Dream on.

    • Ace

      Sometimes it’s dollars and cents, Scott. The Braves are not likely to want to carry six starting pitchers, particularly when several clear the $10 million mark. Does that mean they’d want Bradley in return? Not necessarily. But, I’ll feel free to dream.

  • Rob

    The Braves can get more then Bradley because there is demand for Lowe. They also have Soriano to piece in for a team that needs bullpen help as well. I think the Braves would bite for Derrick Lee or even Alfonso Soriano before they trade for Bradley, which is kind of a last resort option (kind of like the Garret Anderson signing a year ago). I think a team that is desperate for pitching will bite on Lowe and offer a power hitter. If not, we will dump his salary and sign a free agent. The Rangers could always use pitching. Nelson Cruz for Lowe makes sense. The Rangers could then sign someone like Jermaine Dye to replace Cruz.

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