Movin’ Milton … and Other Cubs Rumors

On this Veteran’s Day, the CCO would like to thank all of those that have served our Country.

The GM Meetings conclude at noon on Wednesday … and there were more rumors to come out of the O’Hare Hilton on Tuesday.

The phrase that pays so far this winter for the Chicago Cubs is “bounce back.” As the GM Meetings wind down, Jim Hendry reiterated the fact they are looking for several players to “bounce back” next season and perform the way the Cubs’ GM thought they would in 2009.

The long-term, back-loaded contracts with no trade clauses have caught up to Jim Hendry … and there was speculation Tuesday, Hendry’s future with the Cubs could hinge on how he handles trading Milton Bradley and putting together next year’s team.

Here is the latest from the mill, including a few additions and more on Marlon Byrd, plus important ‘little details‘ of the contract Milton Bradley inked last winter … and scratch the Giants off as a possible destination for Bradley, Brian Sabean said ‘No‘ when asked about acquiring Milton Bradley

Chatting with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine’s chat shed light on several Cubs’ areas … and of course rumors. Here are the highlights:

  • Jim Hendry has been trying to trade Milton Bradley since September.
  • The teams most interested in Bradley: Rays, Mets, Rangers and possibly the Angels. Hendry spent a lot of time with Tampa discussing Bradley on Monday night.
  • Cubs have no money to spend this winter unless Hendry is able to trade some of the players already under contract.
  • Mike Cameron is Plan D for the Cubs this winter. Levine stuck by his timeframe of January or February for the Cubs to sign Cameron if the first three options do not work out.
  • Chone Figgins could be looking for four years and $45 million … which would price the Cubs and the White Sox out of the market for Figgins.
  • The Mets and Cubs do not have a good history as trading partners. While the Mets are looking to move Luis Castillo, Milton Bradley in New York would not work.
  • The Cubs will be looking at the non-tender list in December before making a big move toward another outfielder.
  • The Cubs have some interest in Mike Gonzalez for the bullpen.
  • Jake Fox is a 24th or 25th player on a good team … a starter on an up-and-coming team.
  • Dan Uggla does not fit the Cubs’ needs defensively. The Cubs are looking to improve their defense up the middle and Uggla, defensively, would be more of what they currently have.
  • Levine puts the chances of Bradley being with the Cubs on Opening Day at 5%.
  • Luis Castillo would “not be an awful trade” for the Cubs.
  • Levine thinks the Cubs will have to eat around $5 million of Bradley’s contract.
  • The Cubs do not want Pat Burrell but they want Milton Bradley less.
  • The Cubs “would be interested in addingRamon Troncoso of the Dodgers “depending on how much money he’s asking for.
  • Levine thinks Hendry and the Cubs are “tapped out as far as free-agent cash goes.

Milton Bradley

The Cubs current right fielder continued to be the focus of most the conversation about the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

According to a report from Bruce Levine on Tuesday night, Jim Hendryrekindled talks with several clubs over the last 24 hours” about Milton Bradley. Hendry met with the Rays’ GM. Andrew Friedman and special assistant Gerry Hunsicker “talked about the parameters of paring down the difference and the money” with Jim Hendry on a deal that would send Pat Burrell to the Cubs for Bradley.

The Rangers “would gladly tradeKevin Millwood to the Cubs for Bradley according to Bruce Levine. The Cubs would have to pay around $12.5 million to send Bradley to Texas for Millwood. Bradley is owed more than $21 million (more on Bradley’s contract below) and Millwood is due $12 million in 2010. The Rangers are willing to pay only $4 million of Bradley’s remaining contract.

Levine reported, “the Cubs general manager did say he hoped to have a couple of deals made in the next few weeks before the winter meetings begin on December 7.

While the Cubs appear to be working on trading Bradley for “another bad contractthe sticking point with the teams Hendry has spoken with remains how much of the difference the Cubs will “eat.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe joined Seth Everett and Jim Bowden during Power Alley (XM Radio) on Tuesday morning. Abraham confirmed the tweet from Jon Heyman hours earlier.

Jon Heyman said (via Twitter), “Some of these Milton Bradley rumors are wild, but he has to go somewhere. Word is, many of the Cubs’ stars won’t even talk to him.” Heyman later ‘tweeted’ that, “Milton Bradley is like an oddball kid in class with Cubs’ teammates. No way he can go back according to sources.

Heyman expanded on his tweets later in the day with a report on SI.com. According to Heyman, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambranobarely speak to Bradley.

“I don’t think they dislike him. But Milton’s a unique guy who doesn’t fit in, like the oddball kid in class. He doesn’t try to fit in. The other guys tried to take him in, but he’s one of those kids that simply doesn’t want to be a part of anything.”

With Abraham verifying what Heyman said it would be hard to dismiss Bradley’s trouble with his teammates. Abraham thinks Milton Bradley will end up back with the Texas Rangers … while Heyman mentioned the Giants (for Aaron Rowand), the Rays (for Pat Burrell), the Angels (for Gary Matthews, Jr., though the Cubs are not interested in Matthew’s Jr.), the Royals (for Jose Guillen) and the Mets (for Luis Castillo).

Jim Bowden spoke with people he knows inside of the Blue Jays organization and was told Toronto is not interested in acquiring Milton Bradley. Bowden emphatically stated Bradley would not be traded to the Blue Jays.

According to a report from Paul Sullivan, the Giants “aren’t willing to do a bad contracts swap for Bradley.

Brian Sabean told the Tribune: “A deal like that? For a player like that? No. Is that succinct enough? I don’t know that addition by subtraction would work. Smarter people than us have tried that.

Omar Minaya confirmed to the Tribune that he would be speaking with Jim Hendry about a possible Luis Castillo for Milton Bradley deal on Tuesday night. The Mets ownership does not want Milton but the feeling is the Mets could move Bradley to another team.

Milton Bradley’s Contract

For most, the contract Milton Bradley signed last winter consisted of two years and $18 million that included a vesting option for a third year worth $12 million. More details have been released … that Jim Hendry must deal with while trying to trade him.

Milton Bradley can earn an additional million dollars per year by making 575 plate appearances. Bradley has reached that total only once … 2004 with the Dodgers (597).

Here’s the breakdown:

  • $200,000 for 525 plate appearances
  • $300,000 for 550 plate appearances
  • $500,000 for 575 plate appearances

Bradley is also guaranteed a suite on the road and can earn $75,000 for a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger or All-Star appearance.

So, Jim Hendry has to move $23 million, not the $21 million as thought. While Bradley has reached 575 plate appearances only once, he managed 509 in 2008 with the Rangers and with an AL team and the DH it is a possibility.

Arbitration Eligible

The Cubs have a large amount of arbitration eligible players that will account for a lot of “the small increase in payroll” from 2009 to 2010.

  • Carlos Marmol
  • Jeff Baker
  • Sean Marshall
  • Ryan Theriot
  • Koyie Hill
  • Aaron Heilman
  • Angel Guzman
  • Tom Gorzelanny
  • Neal Cotts

Mike Fontenot could be a Super 2 and the Cubs will find out for sure on Friday. According to Bruce Miles, Carlos Marmolfigures to get a nice raise.” Marmol, Marshall, Theriot, Hill and Guzman are arbitration eligible for the first time.

Marlon Byrd

A report from FoxSports.com Tuesday night indicated the Cubs could have interest in Marlon Byrd … and Bruce Miles confirmed the Cubs’ interest later in the evening.

We’re a long way from that now, but the Cubs will have their eyes on Byrd when he hits the open market later this month.Miles reported Rudy Jaramillo likes Marlon Byrd.

According to a report from the Tribune, Jim Hendry will target Marlon Byrd once the 15-day window ends on November 20. Hendry, as mentioned by the CCO, tried to trade to Byrd prior to the 2008 season and Byrd is a favorite of Rudy Jaramillo.

Jeff Samardzija

According to a report from Bruce Miles, Jim Hendry is “comfortable with the in-house options the Cubs have while Ted Lilly spends at least part of April rehabbing from shoulder surgery.

Hendry mentioned Jeff Samardzija first in the list of “in-house options” along with Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny. The Cubs feel “good about the progress Samardzija made in Mexico.

Jeff Samardzija’s line in Winter Ball: 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in five starts with a 1.25 WHIP and a .256 opponents batting average. Samardzija walked eight and struck out 22 in 24 innings.

Derrek Lee

Bruce Levine has reported for weeks the Cubs would like to extend Derrek Lee’s contract this winter. Lee will become a free agent after next season. The Tribune reported the Cubs “are in no hurry to open talks with Derrek Lee over a contract extension.” If Lee puts up similar numbers in 2010 that he did in 2009 he is in line for a “sizable contract.

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Well, that’s the latest … and I’m sticking to it!

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting and just have faith that things will work out." - Steve Jobs
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