Early rumors flying out of the winter GM meetings in Chicago are all over the board concerning free agents, trades, and declining profits. But the most consistent noise on Monday was surrounding Chicago Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley.
Bradley? Consistent noise? Really?
The Hot Stove features one rumor being reported by a number of sources and it appears to have some legs to it. Three teams would be involved, with three players changing uniforms.
In Toronto, Lyle Overbay's contract has lasted longer than his welcome. The Blue Jays unloaded Alex Rios to the White Sox last summer, and are continuing to try their best to shed huge, bad contracts. Overbay's on the market.
In New York, the Mets have no love for Luis Castillo. The slap-hitting second baseman is both expensive and positionless on a Mets team trying to get younger. The Mets would love to unload Castillo.
And in Chicago, Bradley can't get out of town fast enough. Reports from both local Chicago media and national personalities are that the Cubs won't even talk to Bradley or his agent. His time on the North Side is over.
So let's make a deal!
The proposed deal, first reported by Fox's Ken Rosenthal, would have Overbay heading to the Mets, Bradley to the Jays, and Castillo to Chicago.
Intriguing. Let's look at the money.
In 2010, Bradley has a base salary of $9 million; in 2011 he stands to make $12 million.
In 2010, the final year of his contract, Overbay will make $7 million.
In 2010 and 2011, Castillo will make $6 million.
So Bradley is pulling the most financial weight in this proposed deal, with Overbay bringing only one year, and Castillo with the lowest annual cost. That would indicate that perhaps both the Cubs and Mets would be asked to move cash to make this deal work.
From the Cubs' perspective, Castillo is an intriguing name to consider.
Castillo, a 34-year-old switch hitter, is coming off a season that, on paper, could be considered fairly attractive. He had a .387 on-base percentage and stole 20 bases in 142 games with the Mets. He's a top-of-the-order guy, batting either leadoff or second throughout his career.
It appears Cubs GM Jim Hendry is content with the idea of Jeff Baker being his poor man's Mark DeRosa in 2010, backing up most of the infield with fair offensive ability. But adding Castillo, who would likely start at second base, would push Baker to the bench.
Castillo would also allow the Cubs to push Ryan Theriot to second or seventh in the batting order, depending on Kosuke Fukudome's production. Having flexibility with a switch hitter was the idea behind Hendry overpaying Bradley last winter, and putting Castillo at the top of the order could be a big boost.
The Cubs still have Aaron Miles, another switch-hitting second baseman, on the roster, though. He did little more than wipe himself in 2009, so his role on the club next year is up in the air now as well.
Again, this is a rumor that's being reported by a number of historically reliable sources, including Rosenthal. Whether or not it happens is intriguing to consider, but the hot stove is alive and burning in Chicago already.
UPDATE: The Cubs have reportedly also continued their talks with the Tampa Bay Rays regarding a straight Bradley for Pat Burrell swap. There has also been a rumor that the Cubs and Rangers could make a deal with Kevin Millwood coming back to Chicago.