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CHICAGO -- The Cubs are trying hard to dump the perennially malcontented Milton Bradley here at the GM meetings, as it isn't just manager Lou Piniella who didn't connect with him in his season here. Apparently, several key members of the team -- including Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano -- barely speak to Bradley.
"I don't think they dislike him. But Milton's a unique guy who doesn't fit in, like the oddball kid in class,'' one Cubs-connected person said.
"He doesn't try to fit in. The other guys tried to take him in, but he's one of those kids that simply doesn't want to be part of anything,'' one Cubs person said.
The Chicago Tribune reported that a Bradley blowup with now-deposed hitting coach Von Joshua preceded his two-week, end-of-the-year suspension, a fitting end to a dreadful year. So if anyone on the Cubs is suggesting that they might keep him, they're kidding themselves.
"They're going to get rid of him,'' one NL exec said. "No way he can go back.''
The question is: Who'll take him?
The prime candidates could be the Rangers and Rays, though the Giants are mentioned as a possibility, as well. Bradley thrived his one year in Texas, when he got along with manager Ron Washington and only one major blowup occurred. Giants manager Bruce Bochy is said to feel better than most about Bradley, as well.
"[Bradley] needs to go to some place small, like Kansas City or San Diego,'' one GM said.
The Rangers, who seek a right-handed hitter and are the most obvious team to have had a positive experience with Bradley, would probably take the 31-year-old outfielder if the Cubs paid a vast majority of the $21 million remaining on his crazy contract. Texas appeared willing to give Bradley $6 million for one year last winter, but if they are would pay $5 million for two now, that would mean the Cubs would only have to eat $16 million of the $21 million.
The Cubs are looking at other teams that have players with similarly bad contracts, such as the Rays (Pat Burrell), Giants (Aaron Rowand), Angels (Gary Matthews Jr. -- though Chicago appears not to have interest in Sarge's son), Royals (Jose Guillen) and Mets (Luis Castillo). If the Cubs took Burrell, though, "We'd have to trade him,'' one Cubs person said, pointing out that Burrell is a DH at this point.
While the Mets need an outfielder, one Mets person wisely said they could never take Bradley in New York.
One rumor had Bradley being talked about in a three-way deal with Castillo and Toronto's Lyle Overbay. But that sounds like a Cubs daydream, as the Jays are said to have no interest in Bradley. Beyond that, it's hard enough to deal Bradley in a two-team deal, much less one that involves three teams.
Superstar front: Halladay more likely to go than Gonzalez
Baseball people seem to believe that of the two superstar players available in trade -- Roy Halladay and Adrian Gonzalez -- Halladay is more likely to be moved for a few important reasons, such as:
1) He's eligible for free agency after this year, whereas the Padres have Gonzalez for two more years.
2) He makes $16 million to only about $5 million for Gonzalez, who has $10.25 mil over two remaining.
3) He wants out of Toronto.
In an especially weak free-agent starting-pitching market, Halladay, 31, would draw interest from several teams, and with a new GM in Toronto (Alex Anthopoulos replaced J.P. Ricciardi), the whole game could change. It isn't known how Padres GM Jed Hoyer or Anthopoulos will handle their respective situations, but it is interesting to note that both cases are being handled by new GMs. "Sometimes new GMs like to put their stamp on a team,'' one competing GM said, speculating that that could mean the two players could be more likely to be traded.
But Hoyer didn't sound in any hurry to trade Gonzalez, saying, "He's a great player with a great contract who's a fan favorite.''
The San Diego Union-Tribune suggested that Gonzalez, 27, would be traded "sooner rather than later,'' and mentioned as proof that he wasn't on the Padres' sales brochures. But that was still a somewhat nebulous prediction, and it doesn't appear that Gonzalez is especially close to being moved yet. As of late Monday night, for instance, it didn't seem that the Red Sox, one of the prime candidates to pursue Gonzalez, had even spoken to San Diego.
While many competing executives see the Red Sox as the favorites to retain star left fielder Jason Bay, such a deal wouldn't necessarily prevent Boston from considering big trade options, including Gonzalez. But when they do speak to San Diego, it won't necessarily be easy to make a deal. Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said that knowing new Padres GM Jed Hoyer, who just left Boston's front office, won't necessarily be a benefit to make a trade. "We look for the same things in players,'' Epstein said. "It's sometimes easier to make a deal if there are disparities in how players are valued.''
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