Tampa Bay appears to be the best match with a Bradley for Pat Burrell deal, but that most likely won't be consummated unless the Cubs pick up a majority of the $21 million still owed Bradley over two years. The Rays are only committed to Burrell for $9 million next year.
Bradley can thank the White Sox's Kenny Williams for some promotional work, which the general manager did at the risk of being charged with tampering.
"You know, the funny thing is, I've had the pleasure of talking to Milton in the past," Williams said, "and it saddens me to a great extent, actually, some of the situations that he's been put in or he's put himself in.
"I'd like to see this guy just be able to go out there without all the distractions and everything and do what he can do because this guy can play -- he can play. I don't know that I see a fit for us, and I probably shouldn't even be talking about him because he's not our player. But he can play. Milton Bradley can play.
"It's too bad because he's really a more thoughtful person and he's a better person than I think it's been portrayed or he's shown, however the [heck] it's manifested itself. It's too bad."
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said he has a good relationship with Williams, adding they "root against each other six times a year" during the Interleague series. The Cubs did their homework on Bradley, and were more concerned about how many games he'd be able to play than his mood swings. He disappointed on the field and off, batting .257 in 124 games, and was suspended for the final 15 games because of detrimental conduct.
"We did a lot of work on Milton and talked to a lot of people who he played for and played with before we signed him," Hendry said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out how we drew it up last year. He played well the two or three years before we got him, and played in the All-Star Game and a lot of darn good managers liked having him on the club, and we're hoping he'll get his career back on track."
The only question remaining is with whom?
Before the Cubs arrived at the Indianapolis Marriott, Hendry said there were at least three teams interested in Bradley. On Wednesday, he indicated there were some new inquiries.
"You can't define other people's interest level," Hendry said, "but I think when you get to the middle of December and you're meeting and talking about certain players involved in trades, the other team has some interest."
The Cubs have laid the groundwork to fill the other items on their wish list, which is finding a center fielder, an experienced right-handed reliever and some bench help. The team will have scouts in Arizona to watch J.J. Putz throw on the side this week. He's coming back from elbow surgery in June for bone spurs.
Hendry has checked the free-agent market for outfielders, which include Mike Cameron, a favorite of Cubs manager Lou Piniella.
"The thing that we came into here a little differently than normal is that there wasn't as much volume to look into," Hendry said. "We've had Winter Meetings where we needed more than two or three pieces, no matter who we wanted to trade or not trade. We've looked into all kinds of options."