Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs closer to moving Bradley?

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The increased interest by at least two more teams in Milton Bradley the first day of the winter meetings here in Indianapolis has the Cubs anticipating a break in the logjam over bad contracts and money that stalemated talks with teams for the past month.

Whether a deal ultimately gets done in Indy before teams head out Thursday, there's an expectation among some team officials that something will happen no later than the week or two after the meetings -- one source characterizing the feeling as a matter of when not if.

That's with the Cubs moving him without eating the vast majority of the contract.

The Cubs feel they're in a much stronger position to trade him close to their own terms than they've felt in several recent player-dump efforts, confirming four teams were in on Bradley going into today.

Compare that to the Sammy Sosa soap opera dragging into spring training in 2005 because of huge back-end money in an option he eventually agreed to give up. And as recently as two winters ago, the Cubs were forced to pay Jacque Jones' entire salary (minus major league minimum) to trade him to Detroit.

The Cubs also aren't facing another restriction they've been under in some of their past off-seasons of wheeling and dealing. New owner Tom Ricketts has given Jim Hendry a payroll limit, but how he arrives at it by opening day is up to him.

In other words, he's theoretically free to make moves that put commitments beyond his budget on the books in the near term as he anticipates moving other commitments off the books later this winter.

That hasn't always been the case, said a team official. And that means that Hendry might have the flexibility to go get a free agent center fielder such as Mike Cameron, or a relief pitcher, even as he waits for the Bradley saga to play out.

The bigger issue with that, of course, is potentially closing off some of the Bradley opportunities by prematurely filling a need that the Bradley trade will fill.

A lot of balls in the air as the Cubs go through another heavy day of talks today in Indy.

Meanwhile, a few other tidbits:

--Marlon Byrd declined arbitration from the Rangers, which was more of a formality than a surprise. But it officially keeps the free agent center fielder on the Cubs' board.

--Depending on the direction Bradley goes, there are as many as seven center fielders the Cubs have an eye on, through free agency or potential trade. Cameron appears to be the best-case scenario all else being equal (and his price tag not suddenly inflating beyond projections). Lou loves Cameron; Cameron loves Lou and the city; and sources from two other teams familiar with Cameron say they expect him to wind up with the Cubs.

--Free agent starting pitcher Braden Looper told Fox Sports he'd consider pitching for the Cubs (then, again, so would I)

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Move him! The sooner the better. Let yet another team deal with this perennial headache. Anybody else would be better than that sour puss crank in the outfield and on the team. Cameron's better in every respect, even though he's injury prone.

From the Associated Press (AP) - December 11, 2009 - Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry announced today that his primary objective during the offseason was to sign Sluggo, the weird looking little dude from the old "Nancy" comic strip. "Sluggo has awesome potential," Hendry proclaimed excitedly, as he slowly chewed on the tattered remnants of star-crossed outfielder Milton Bradley's $30 million contract. "We feel that he can spell Soriano in left, and provide some punch off the bench." As if on cue, Sluggo, who happened to be sitting right next to Hendry on a Downtown Chicago park bench, promptly spelled out S-O-R-I-A-N-O on a yellow legal pad, and then offered Hendry some fruit juicy Hawaiian Punch. To which Hendry excitedly gushed, "See?" Hendry then somberly declared that the Queen of England was in love with Mayor McCheese, and Zippy the Lipless Pinhead was a fine poodle groomer. He then vomited into a nearby waste basket and began counting the hairs on his right forearm.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on December 8, 2009 10:22 AM.

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