Pour the extra egg nog in Wrigley Field: The Chicago Cubs finally have unloaded troubled outfielder Milton Bradley, trading him to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva. The Cubs also will receive $9 million in cash in the deal, an official with one of the teams involved told CBSSports.com.
The trade gives Seattle the productive outfield bat it's been searching for -- the Mariners were in on free agent Jason Bay, to a degree -- and boils down to an exchange of bad contracts.
Silva is due $25 million over the next two seasons and Bradley is owed $22 million.
Of the money the Cubs will receive, $3 million is to cover the difference between the two salaries. The other $6 million will be spread over two seasons, 2010 and 2011, and essentially provide the Cubs with salary relief of the Bradley/Silva contract (whichever way you want to view it).
The money will help the Cubs "fill in the cracks", as general manager Jim Hendry puts it, as they continue building their 2010 club and recover from a bitterly disappointing '09. The Cubs' chief priorities are to find a center fielder -- Marlon Byrd, a free agent who played with Texas last summer, is one of the possibilities -- and bullpen help.
The Cubs hoped the switch-hitting Bradley would do that last summer, but he got off to a bad start and never did recover. He was aloof, got into it with manager Lou Piniella, ripped the atmosphere surrounding the team (saying he could understand why the Cubs haven't won a World Series in more than 100 years) and essentially was kicked off of the team, with Hendry sending him home before the season ended. Bradley hit .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 124 games for the Cubs.
Silva, meanwhile, was a colossal disappointment after signing a four-year, $48 million deal with the Mariners as a free agent following the 2007 season. He won five games in two seasons with the Mariners, averaging a tidy $4.8 million per win. The Cubs will look at him both as a fifth starter candidate and as a long relief possibility.
As for Seattle, this is one more move in a busy offseason. The Mariners this week acquired ace left-hander Cliff Lee and earlier signed free agent third baseman Chone Figgins. Bradley is expected to play left field for the Mariners.
Under GM Jack Zduriencik, the Mariners have emphasized character in their clubhouse as well as talent on the field, and the hope is that veteran Ken Griffey Jr., Figgins and the rest will provide a good enough atmosphere and example that Bradley will behave.
As for Bay, his market appears to be rapidly dwindling. The Mets have made him an offer, but Boston and now Seattle appear to have cashed out on the 32-year-old free agent outfielder.
The domino effect of that probably extends to Matt Holliday, whose odds of returning to St. Louis seem better with each passing day this winter.