'Positive move': Seattle acquires Bradley
Mariners add outfielder from Cubs in deal for Silva, cash
SEATTLE -- The Mariners' offseason renovation got a lot busier Friday, when Seattle pulled off a trade full of intrigue and potential but not without a few question marks.
The Mariners acquired volatile outfielder Milton Bradley from the Cubs in exchange for right-hander Carlos Silva and cash, swapping similar high-salary contracts.
The deal was struck in the hopes that a change of venue will get Seattle the stellar on-field performance Bradley has produced at times in his up-and-down 10-year career -- without the temper flare-ups that have caused problems.
Bradley, on a conference call with Seattle-area media, said he was looking forward to the new start.
"It's always been a place I've played at and come to, I always enjoyed the city and the fans," Bradley said. "They're acquiring guys to try to play winning baseball. That's a positive and I like that."
As for Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik, Bradley was a very talented player who happened to be available and whom the club viewed as a good fit for a clubhouse with good vibes after a 24-game turnaround in 2009 that saw the Mariners improve to 85-77.
"You can throw out [the names of] a lot of the available bats out there, and there are some good ones, but two years ago, this guy led the American League in on-base percentage," Zduriencik said. "We know he's a very competitive guy who really, really wants to win, and we're going to welcome him here, we're going to have open arms for him."
"And the attributes he brings on the field, we're well aware of, and I think our community is the type of community, our dugout and locker room are communities, that I think this guy will find himself comfortable in."
Bradley was definitely not when he had temper-related problems with the Cleveland Indians, for whom he played from 2001-03, and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2004-05), and particularly last season in Chicago.
Last Sept. 20, Bradley was suspended for the final 15 games because of detrimental conduct. He made comments to the Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.) newspaper that the Cubs were "not a positive environment," adding, "You can understand why they haven't won in 100 years here, because it's negative."
Cubs GM Jim Hendry's response was, "The only real negativity here is his own production."
The day before, Bradley had engaged in an obscenity-filled shouting match with then-hitting coach Von Joshua when asked if he was available to pinch-hit.
"I've really moved forward," Bradley said Friday. "Chicago's a thing in the past and I'm not interested in rehashing old news."
In seemingly happy situations in '06 and '07 with Oakland, in '07 with San Diego and in '08 with Texas, Bradley shined on the field.
Zduriencik said he consulted Mariners bench coach Ty Van Burkleo, who was on the A's staff when Bradley was there, and Mariners coach Steve Hecht, who worked on manager Ron Washington's staff in Texas in '08, and both gave glowing recommendations of Bradley.
"I like him as a person," Van Burkleo said. "I don't have a problem with Milton. I know he's had some issues. He's an intense person. He plays the game hard. He's had some incidents in the past, but I think he's a good fit for us.
"I don't know why things go awry in other places with him. I really don't know what the issues were last year with the Cubs, but he clicked with Oakland and with Texas, too. In Oakland, he enjoyed his teammates and his teammates liked him. I like him. He wants to win. Sometimes he puts added pressure on himself, but if you communicate with Milton and he communicates with you, he can really stay on the same page."
From a payroll perspective, the trade is almost a wash.
Silva has two years remaining on a four-year, $48 million contract that he signed prior to the '08 season from former Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi, and Bradley is owed $21 million over two years -- $9 million in '10 and $12 million in '11. Silva has $25 million remaining -- $11.5 million in both '10 and '11 and a $2 million buyout on a '12 option. The Mariners will send the Cubs $9 million to complete the deal.
Silva has been a big disappointment for Seattle, going 4-15 in 28 starts in '08 and 1-3 with a 8.60 ERA in eight games (six starts) in an injury-riddled '09. Silva projected to be a long reliever on the '10 roster.
Meanwhile, Bradley, a 31-year-old switch-hitter batted .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs and put up an on-base percentage of .378 for the Cubs in '09.
Bradley led the AL in OBP (.436) and on-base-plus-slugging (.999) in '08 with the Rangers, and was third in batting average (.321) that season. He has a career OBP of .390 in the AL and started at DH in the '08 All-Star Game.
Bradley projects as the team's starting left fielder and occasional DH, which could rule out the team signing high-priced free agent Jason Bay. Zduriencik said he envisions Bradley batting third, fourth or fifth depending on how manager Don Wakamatsu draws it up after Spring Training.
"We were in search of a middle-of-the-lineup hitter for quite some time," Zduriencik said. "[The trade has] given us a guy we think can be a force in our lineup. We're excited. It's a positive move for the Seattle Mariners, and we'll see where it takes us.
"He wants to be here. ... I talked to him and asked him how he felt about Seattle, and he said, 'Seeing my name attached to a lot of different scenarios, when I saw Seattle, I was going, OK, this will be fun.' He realizes what we're trying to do here and where we're headed, and he wants to be a part of it."
Zduriencik was asked if the club will lean on the veteran clubhouse presence of Ken Griffey Jr. to take Bradley under his wing, but Zduriencik said Griffey is just one player in a supportive clubhouse of 25.
"You don't put an extra burden on any person and say, 'Do this,' or, 'Do that,'" Zduriencik said. "It's a new day and a new way for [Bradley]. He was excited about that today and that's all you can ask for.
"This is a good fit for us. And we think we have the support group. ... It's a very positive environment. And players want to be in very positive environments."
But in the grand scheme of things, the move appears to be another low-risk, potentially high-reward transaction for the Mariners in the Zduriencik era.
"All we tried to do and all we're trying to do every day is improve our ballclub, and in this particular situation, our thought process is that this guy helps us improve," Zduriencik said.
"He makes our lineup better and that's the end of it. Period."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.