The Chicago Cubs would like to -- have to -- deal disgruntled outfielder Milton Bradley. And one player they are eyeing as a target destination is the Blue Jays, with centre fielder Vernon Wells going to the Cubs in return.
"It's early on, but we think this one has some legs," said one Cubs official. "But they aren't the only team we are talking with."
Yes, "centre" is correct. Remember, the quote's from a Canadian paper. Vernon Wells signed an enormous contract with the Blue Jays before the 2008 season and there are six years left on the deal. How would the Cubs deal with that huge amount of money, given Tom Ricketts' statement yesterday that payroll would go up "slightly" next year, as well as Alfonso Soriano's remaining deal?
The Cubs' idea is to split the difference on monies owed -- Wells' $107 million and Bradley's $21 million for a difference of $86 million. Each team absorbs $43 million.
I was told there would be no math here, but if I have calculated this right -- and correct me, please, if I haven't -- that puts the Cubs on the hook for (approximately) $10.67 million for each of the six remaining years of Wells' deal. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Wells has a full no-trade clause that would have to be waived, and he can opt out of the deal after 2011.
Since the departure of Milton Bradley was only going to be made possible by taking on someone else's bad contract, this might be a possible "best of the worst". Wells is about six months younger than Bradley and had a big offensive season as recently as 2006. He can play center field, which would allow the Cubs to move Kosuke Fukudome back to right field, a better position for him. I'm not completely sold on this deal, but remember, the Cubs aren't exactly in the best bargaining position, either. The article concludes:
The Cubs have to deal Bradley. Other possible landing spots: The San Francisco Giants for lefty Barry Zito, who has four years remaining at $83 million; the Indians for Travis Hafner, three years for $40.25 million, Giants' Aaron Rowand, three years at $36 million, the Dodgers for Juan Pierre, two years at $18.5 million, and Tampa Bay's Pat Burrell, one year at $7 million.
Well. There's no way the Cubs ever, ever, EVER take Juan Pierre back. The Burrell possibility has been rumored before; Burrell's a bad outfielder, but at least the Cubs would only be stuck with his deal for one year; we've discussed the Rowand possibility also, I doubt the Giants are dealing Zito now since he had such a good second half, and there would be absolutely no point in acquiring Hafner, who hasn't played a game in the field since 2007 and can only play first base -- the Cubs already have one of those.
We, as ever, await developments.