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Burrell-For-Bradley Rumor Rears Its Head Again

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This time, it comes via Joel Sherman at the New York Post, a source sometimes reputable, sometimes not (hat tip to MLBTR for the link). Sherman writes:

I hear that a trade of Tampa Bay’s Pat Burrell for the CubsMilton Bradley is still a strong possibility. Burrell is due $9 million next year while Bradley has two years at $21 million left. Bradley also makes $9 million next year, so the sticking point is how much of the 2011 $12 million contract the Cubs are willing to absorb to complete a trade. My hunch is that the Cubs would have to eat at least half and make that a $6 million contract for the Rays in 2011.

Financially, this would be a reasonable outcome for the Cubs. The $9 million for this year is a sunk cost; I assume payroll planning included paying that amount to someone, whether it be Bradley, another player, or eating Bradley's deal. Splitting the contract for 2011 makes the "effective" cost to the Cubs $6 million. However, as we have discussed here, Burrell is pretty useless to the Cubs -- he'd be a disaster in right field, and would almost certainly have to be flipped back to another AL team where he could DH. The DH market is pretty saturated, though. Sherman continues:

If the Cubs go through with this trade they are looking at two poor left fielders who both swing righty – Burrell and Alfonso Soriano – on the roster. So this is totally my speculation, but I wonder if the Cubs would then do a trade built around Burrell for Luis Castillo. It is hard to find a baseball official who actually thinks the Mets are going to land either Jason Bay or Matt Holliday in free agency, yet the Mets still want to add power to left field. Burrell is a woeful fielder, but he has some power plus removing Castillo would allow the Mets to hunt some additional power at second base.

First, I'm glad a sportswriter actually puts the words "this is totally my speculation" in print -- sometimes you'll read an article saying something like this and assume it comes from a team source. This time, it's simply a NY sportswriter making something up. I haven't been in favor of Castillo in the past and I'd rather not see this deal. Castillo's speed has been declining -- his 20 SB last year were his fewest in a full season (not counting 2005, when he missed 40 games due to injury), and though he does get on base at a reasonable clip (.387 OBA in 2009), he has almost no power -- his .346 SLG was the sixth-lowest of anyone who qualified for the 2009 batting title. He did rank at 1.6 WAR in 2009 according to Fangraphs.

Burrell or Castillo? Neither is a real good option, but I'd like to see the Bradley deal done before the winter meetings, so Jim Hendry could actually address the real needs of this team next week in Indianapolis.