Best-Case Scenario: Milton Bradley

Joel KochSenior Analyst IOctober 23, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 08: Milton Bradley #21 of the Chicago Cubs walks back to the dugout after making the final out of the game as Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves walks to the mound on July 8, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Braves defeated the Cubs 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Milton Bradley and his contract didn't work out for the Chicago Cubs. Gee, who didn't see that coming?

The Cubs want to get out from under Bradley's contract, and pick up something useful in return. They have very little payroll flexibility and need a lot of things, including talent (zing).

The best-case scenario for the Bradley saga to end on the north side, while adding a needed piece, exists. Yes, it does, and it exists north of the border.

Vernon Wells.

Okay, I'll give you a second to get back up off of the floor, either from falling out of your chair in a giant fit of laughter or dropping from shock.

Yes, Wells represents the best option for the Cubs.

Let's look at this a little more in-depth.

Wells is a fly ball hitter, which works well in Toronto. His fly balls turn into doubles, but also into outs.

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In Wrigley Field, can you say home runs?

More importantly, Wells would be working with one of the best hitting coaches around in Rudy Jarmillo. His work with Wells could turn him into a more solid hitter.

Bradley's gap power would work well in Toronto, where he could pull off more doubles and home runs at the new Yankee Stadium.

Okay, you can stop laughing now...really. Here is the trade proposal, which will make all you laughing Cubs fans happy: Mike Fontenot and Milton Bradley for Vernon Wells, Jeremy Accardo, Jose Bautista, and cash.

Fontenot is a non-tender candidate for the Cubs and could serve a purpose for the Blue Jays.

Fontenot is a second baseman by trade, but played a lot of third base in 2009 because of Aramis Ramirez's injuries. By adding Fontenot, the Blue Jays could either platoon him with Edwin Encarnacion, or trade/non-tender Encarnacion to start Fontenot full-time.

Bautista and Accardo are also non-tender candidates, but both can serve a purpose for the Cubs.

Bautista can play all three outfield spots, along with both corner infield positions. He has also played second base on occasion, giving the Cubs a valuable utility player in case of injuries again.

Accardo would take the place of Kevin Gregg, for cheaper, and serve as the setup man to Carlos Marmol. With his 38 career saves, Accardo can also serve as a secondary closer as protection.

Wells, while filling a glaring need for the Cubs in center field, would serve as a lower-third batter in the lineup, giving the lineup more depth.

While it would take away another left-handed bat from the lineup, Wells' numbers would drastically improve in the bandbox known as Wrigley field, not to mention in a hitter-friendly division.

Let us not forget that Wells has won two Gold Gloves in center field, and while his defense has fallen off in recent years, Wrigley Field's small dimensions would serve Wells better.

The cash involved from the Blue Jays would be $6 million for 2010, $15 million for 2011, and $12 million in each of 2012-14. In case you were wondering, that's $57 million over the five seasons he would be in Chicago.

Just to show how significant that is for the Cubs, here's Wells' contract with the Cubs compared to the Blue Jays:

2010: $6.5 million ($2 million saved)
2011: $8 million ($4 million saved)
2012-14: $9 million
Total: $41.5 million over five seasons, or $8.3 million per season

That amount for a center fielder in today's game is a great bargain.

Not so much for the Blue Jays.

This is where the problem ensues for Toronto. They would add Bradley's entire salary, meaning that they would be paying $15 million to Bradley in 2010, or $2.5 million more than they would have paid Wells.

The main reason behind the trade is to add offense, as Bradley has shown the ability to hit well in the American League.

This would allow for the Blue Jays to rotate Bradley, Adam Lind, and Travis Snider through the DH and corner outfield roles.

How would the Blue Jays fill center field? Marlon Byrd.

Yes, the Blue Jays would have to allow for Marco Scutaro and Rod Barajas to leave via free agency, and possibly rely on Angel Sanchez to cover the shortstop role, but all in the name of competing.

The Blue Jays have to build a strong foundation through the minors to compete in the AL East, and that starts by trading Wells.

Why? Bradley, with two years remaining on his contract, could become a Type A free agent with two good years in Toronto, and because he can DH, that is very likely.

Scutaro and Barajas will bring back draft picks, as well.

So while on paper the Blue Jays would not be as good of a team as they were in 2009, it would make for a nice start.