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)