Come To Think of It: Padres Reportedly Interested in Chicago's Milton Bradley

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer ISeptember 26, 2009

CHICAGO - AUGUST 30: Milton Bradley #21 of the Chicago Cubs is hit by a pitch from Nelson Figueroa of the New York Mets in the 5th inning on August 30, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

One of Cubs GM Jim Hendry's first priorities this offseason is to try and move Milton Bradley, and he just may find a willing trade partner in friend and fellow GM Kevin Towers, according to an ESPN.com report by Jerry Crasnick.

On Friday, the San Diego Padres GM said he wouldn't mind having Bradley return to the city he once played in. Left unsaid was "if the price is right."

"I haven't had any calls from Jim about him," Towers told ESPN.com. "But I think people kind of know what players we target. We have to take chances sometimes. We took a chance on Milton the first time we had him, and he actually played pretty well [before the injury].

"We could be in the market for an outfielder. I'm not saying it's necessarily Milton. But our experience with him was rather a positive one. It wasn't really a negative one."

Look, as big a headache as Bradley can be, Towers understands that a team with limited finances like the Padres cannot afford to walk away from an outfielder who, under normal circumstances, is a good hitter that will likely come rather cheaply in trade.

I'm sure Hendry knows that he will have to pay a sizeable portion of Milton's contract if he wants to move him. And it seems almost inevitable that it's going to happen.

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If Hendry can get a decent player in return, that would be gravy. In fact, one way to even things out would be for the Cubs to take on one of the Padres higher salaries in return.

Too bad Jake Peavy wasn't still there.

Oh, but Heath Bell is. The Padres closer has 40 saves and a K/9 of 9.86 this season. Righthanders are hitting just .134 against him. But he is eligible for salary arbitration so the Padres may consider moving him.

Meanwhile, with Peavy gone and Brian Giles coming off the books, Towers should be able to take on, oh, say, half of Bradley's remaining $21 million.

By suspending Bradley, the Cubs effectively put a huge "FOR SALE" sign on his neck. And don't think other teams don't recognize that and will come sniffing around trying to get Milton for next to nothing. Or wait to see if the Cubs will simply release him if Hendry can't find a trading partner.

San Diego might be a better environment for Bradley to succeed. I fully expect him to revert back to normal career levels offensively anyway. Plus, he has played in Southern California before.

As Crasnick reminds, "Bradley hit .313 with a 1.004 OPS in 144 at-bats as a Padre, but his season ended prematurely because of a knee injury. Bradley tore his right ACL while being restrained by Padres manager Bud Black during an argument with umpire Mike Winters, and underwent surgery to repair the tear."

Hopefully, Bradley's "apology" will help clubs think he's matured.

In a fine job of writing by his agents, Bradley issued the following statement:

"I chose Chicago as a free agent because I wanted to be part of finally bringing a championship to Cubs fans...I expected to have a great season and I am deeply disappointed by my performance and the team's struggles."

Of course, that B.S. was in response to an agreement between Hendry and Bradley's agents so that Bradley would be paid the remaining $400,000 he is owed for this season.

Whatever happens, it's best for both sides that Bradley moves on. If the Pads will take him, I say more power to them, come to think of it.