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Major League Baseball’s winter meetings come to a close today, and yes, Milton Bradley is still a member of the Chicago Cubs. How can this be? This weekend, we were told Bradley might be moved before the meetings start, but certainly at the meetings. Come Monday, we were told to expect an announcement on Tuesday. On Tuesday we heard the same of Wednesday.

But Wednesday has come and gone, and tenor of optimism has changed. A Bradley trade is no longer “imminent,” and most thinking folks are doubting that it ever was. We’re all deflated. Trading Milton Bradley is going to be brutally difficult, it seems.

And now, at least one writer is suggesting that the team is doing everything it can to help drum up interest in Bradley. Including creating rumors out of whole cloth.

One day after the Cubs were involved in some false buzz (perhaps of their own making) about a Bradley deal being “imminent,” things were quieter on the North Side front Wednesday at the winter meetings.

Desperation on Hendry’s part? Perhaps, given that he refused to shoot down one rumor that seems absurd on its face.

There was buzz Wednesday that the Cubs could send Bradley to the Boston Red Sox for third baseman-first baseman Mike Lowell, whom Hendry tried to acquire in 2003.

Baseball people around the winter meetings hotel were shaking their heads in disbelief over that rumor. The Cubs would not publicly shoot it down or acknowledge it, perhaps in an effort to create the illusion of a marketplace that for the most part does not exist. Later in the day, a rumor linking the Rangers to Lowell popped up. Daily Herald.

(That Rangers/Lowell rumor appears to have materialized into a deal.)

So if Bruce Miles is correct, the “mystery AL team” rumor we heard about late Tuesday night may have been invented by the Cubs, themselves. That squares with my guess that the truth was simply that there was an AL team that we hadn’t yet heard about, who was potentially interested in Bradley, but that a trade was nowhere near close.

Things are a bit depressing on the Bradley front: every team linked to the outfielder has now publicly denied or disavowed, at least at some level, interest in making a deal. The lone exception is the Tampa Bay Rays.

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