Baseball's hot stove has been on full blast putting Milton Bradley trade rumors into motion.
Late Tuesday rumors of a "mystery" suitor came to light that could join the favorite Tampa Bay Rays, this according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. So far, we know the Royals, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Mariners have pretty much ruled themselves out of the race.
The volatile outfielder Bradley is certainly going to be on his way out of Chicago, and a three-way deal seems likely. So if another team joins the Rays and Cubs, or possibly just the Cubs, who are we looking at?
Here are some other possible suitors for Milton Bradley:
The massive contracts Sox GM Kenny Williams took on with Jake Peavy and Alex Rios have his hands tied in free agency. He usually works very under the radar too. Peavy is not going anywhere, but Rios is an interesting trade piece for both the Cubs and Sox.
The Cubs need a center fielder, and while Rios' skills are much diminished from when he signed a massive contract, he's a better center option thank Kosuke Fukudome. He is owed $59.7 million from 2010 through 2014. Rios hit just .247 with 17 home runs and 71 RBI with the Sox and Jays last season. In 611 at-bats he hit fly balls in 45.2 percent of the time vs. ground balls (33.9 percent), strikeouts (17.5 percent), and double plays (3.4 percent).
Compared to Bradley's .257 average with 12 home runs and 40 RBI, his numbers are better. Bradley flew out 38.3 percent of the time in 405 at-bats, with a worse ground ball rate (35.8 percent), much worse strikeout rate (23.5 percent), and slightly lower rate of double plays (2.5 percent). Rios' contract is likely to be the sticking point for the Cubs, as they already have an underachieving, overpaid outfielder in Alfonso Soriano.
This could be a good chance for the Angels to rid themselves of the Gary Matthews Jr. contract. Matthews was paid over $10 million last season and hit .250 with four home runs and 50 RBI. A Rios deal may give the Cubs the best player possible in a one-for-one deal while Matthews is quite the opposite.
The Matthews contract was one of the worst of the decade. As a switch hitter he hit just .221 versus lefties and .261 versus righties. Bradley hit .333 versus lefties and just .231 against righties (Rios was .261/.242). Aside from his poor average, Matthews has shown a lack of power and speed that got him signed. Since 2001 he has hit just 108 home runs with 94 stolen bases. He has 483 RBI and is hitting a career .258.
The Tigers are the only one of these teams who have been outspoken about dumping salary in 2010. While adding Bradley would add a big contract it could be a matter of Detroit dumping a useless contract for one that isn't the most ideal.
Take pitcher Dontrelle Willis ($10 million in 2009), Jeremy Bonderman ($12.5 million), Nate Robertson ($7 million), Carlos Guillen ($10 million), and Magglio Ordonez ($18.5 million) as examples. Ordonez and Guillen failed to reach decent power totals (combined for 20 home runs and 91 RBI). The Tigers, I would say, are the least likely Bradley suitor considering the amount of bad contracts they have.
ESPN's Buster Olney came across early today with the unlikely possibility of a deal sending Mike Lowell to the Cubs. Lowell would be a contract to add, then deal away for prospects, which is pretty much what Pat Burrell would be.
The Red Sox would also unlikely want a troubled outfielder with a big contract. Boston's main focus in the trade market will likely turn to Roy Halladay and possibly signing Jason Bay or Matt Holliday. It would be nice to think a team like the Sox or Yankees (who can afford the contract) would want in, but don't hold your breath.