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The Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays have emerged as the clear cut favorites to land Milton Bradley from the Chicago Cubs. But neither team is too keen on paying much of anything for Bradley over the next two years. Tampa, for their part, is excited about the prospect of having Bradley in the lineup, money issues notwithstanding.

Texas, on the other hand, is uncertain of whether Bradley is worth actually having. This is a team for whom he led the league in OPS. So that’s saying something about how brutal Bradley is when he isn’t at the dish.

A high-placed official said on Sunday that even though Bradley is the type of player the Rangers need in their lineup and they are familiar with him, they weren’t sure they wanted to deal with that “headache” again and may be looking at him as a last resort.

Texas is looking for some bullpen help, which the Cubs could provide in a trade. However, the Rangers do not want the switch-hitting Bradley if the Cubs aren’t willing to pick up a chunk of the $21 million owed him.

The Rays, apparently, feel the same way in regard to the money. They also like the idea of having someone like Bradley in the lineup. Last year, when Bradley was a free agent, Tampa Bay courted him, with executive vice president Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon taking him to lunch to get a better read on him, according to the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

“I would have no problems whatsoever if he became part of our organization,” Maddon told the Times. “If that were to ever happen, I’m pretty sure we’d get along pretty well.”

That casual lunch revealed a different side of Bradley, whose first year in Chicago ended with a 15-game suspension for detrimental conduct. Maddon had heard good things from Bud Black, who managed Bradley in San Diego in 2007.

“You get all this what you hear, what you see, and obviously, some of the things that he has done,” Maddon told the Times. “Then you sit with him and you get a totally different perspective on him. … I found him to be a bright, thoughtful, family-oriented kind of a guy. So I thought he was interesting.” cubs.com.

It looks like the Rays have the same attitude as the Cubs last year: gee willackers, he seems like a nice guy, how could he possibly be as bad as those other SIX TEAMS think?

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