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The Chicago Cubs may be close to moving Milton Bradley, but the long-awaited trade to the Tampa Bay Rays might not be the way the Bradley era ends in Chicago.
At least two other teams, including the Seattle Mariners, are in negotiations with the Cubs for Bradley.
After Major League Baseball chose a new prospective buyer for the Texas Rangers, the Rangers may be in a position economically to entertain another offer for Bradley.
Before the winter meetings ended last week, Texas, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay were all in serious talks with the Cubs about Bradley. A trade with Boston was close to happening before a last-minute snafu killed the trade that would have sent third baseman Mike Lowell to the Cubs.
Texas also was interested in Bradley in exchange for right-handed starting pitcher Kevin Millwood. The Rangers, who had no flexibility at that time to take on Bradley's 2011 contract, eventually traded Millwood to Baltimore for reliever Chris Ray.Major League Baseball has been running the Rangers' economics after owner Tom Hicks failed to make payroll for his club this past summer. A new ownership group, headed by Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg, has gotten the go-ahead by MLB and Hicks to buy the team.
According to some reports, Hicks will retain minority ownership in the Rangers if and when the transaction is completed. With a more economically stable future, the Rangers will be in better position to make a move on Bradley, who led the American League in OPS and slugging in 2008 with the Rangers.
It appears that regardless of whom the Cubs get for Bradley, a big-ticket player will end up in Chicago. Starter Carlos Silva, who signed a four-year, $48 million contract in 2008 with the Mariners, may be involved in the trade.Silva was a workhorse for the Minnesota Twins, averaging 193 innings in four seasons there. But he has struggled for the Mariners, going 4-15 with a 6.46 ERA in 2008, and he made just six starts last season because of a shoulder injury.
After moving Bradley, the Cubs' next step will be to go after a centerfielder and an arm for the bullpen. Recently released Matt Capp, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is on Cubs general manager Jim Hendry's short list of setup men.A center fielder will be chosen among former White Sox Scott Podsednik, Marlon Byrd, and Rick Ankiel. Podsednik is the only everyday player on that short list who can lead off as well as play the outfield. Defensively, Byrd and Ankiel have more skills in center field than Podsednik.
The Cubs are hoping a deal can be made for Bradley in the next five to seven days.