In December, Milton Bradley signed a one-year deal with the Rangers for $5.25MM guaranteed. He can earn up to $2.75MM more based on playing time incentives. The Padres didn’t offer him arbitration; they were afraid of a possible award nearing $10MM.
Bradley was available at an affordable price and term mainly because of his injury history – he hasn’t played 100 games in a season since 2004. His ’07 season ended with an ACL tear in a bizarre incident (his manager tackled him to keep him away from an umpire who had provoked him). That Bradley was ready for Opening Day was remarkable.
Since Bradley was traded to the Padres on June 29th of last year, he’s been an elite hitter: a .981 OPS in 263 at-bats. In that period his OBP ranks 7th in the game (.419) and his SLG ranks 15th (.563). Bradley could be called the Rich Harden of hitters – oft-injured, but elite when he plays. Bradley might be a hot trade commodity this July. He won’t come cheap, since he has a decent chance of Type A status.
The smart move for Bradley in ’09 will be to choose a team with an open DH spot. If he can remain relatively healthy and incident-free for the rest of ’08, he could ask for a $12MM salary. He could even get multiple guaranteed years (after all, Frank Thomas did). The Yankees, Rays, Jays, Royals, and Mariners could be possibilities if the Rangers don’t re-sign him. Of course, we can’t rule out the NL – Bradley nearly re-signed with the Padres.