Weekend BlogNovember 17, 2007
Know Your Free Agents: Is Milton Bradley Worth a Shot?
By The Baseball Analysts Staff

I know, I know. His volatile history makes any investment in his future a risky proposition. But is it at all possible that we are dealing with a new Milton Bradley? He has always been a nice, above average outfielder who would put up 110ish OPS+ seasons with OK outfield defense, some injuries and a suspension or two mixed in. All in all, he netted out to about an average player.

But he turned into something new altogether this season after Oakland shipped him down "The 5" to San Diego. In 169 plate appearances with the Padres, Bradley put up a .313/.414/.590 line, good for a 167 OPS+ at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Although he did not come anywhere close to qualifying for any batting titles, his 167 OPS+ was better than any of the qualifiers in the National League.

I am not really sure what to make of Bradley. He will be 30 next April, and his career numbers suggest that his stint with San Diego was anomalous. He is also injury-prone. But given the numbers being tossed around for some of the other free agent centerfielders, an enterprising GM might be well-served to take a gamble on Bradley. Maybe something has clicked for him, maybe he is more mature now, maybe he can get healthy enough to play 140 games or so, and given the discount he is sure to come at vis-a-vis his free agent peers, maybe he is worth tossing $5-to-10 million at for one season.

-Patrick Sullivan, 11/17/08, 3:51 PM EST


If I were a GM looking for an outfielder and had to choose between Bradley for $5-10 million per year for 1 season and any of the other names (Jones, Rowand, Hunter) for likely 4+ years at $12 million+ per year, I would snap up Bradley immediately.

My biggest concern is that Bradley is a Class A free agent. I'd hate to blow a first round pick on a one-season pickup coming off a torn ACL.

The only way the acquiring team would be forced to give up a compensatory draft pick for Bradley would be if the Padres offer him arbitration prior to December 7. Given his health status, San Diego may elect not to offer him arbitration.

In my book, Bradley would be a worthwhile gamble for one year (with a club option for a second year) at the lower end of Sully's suggested range of $5-10M, especially if a team doesn't have to give up a first round draft pick for him. However, the combo of his injury and the fact that he is no longer a center fielder would keep me from offering more years or money at this time.

Numbers are great, all other things being semi-equal. Milton Bradley is another case altogether. Anybody expecting him to change personalities has never witnessed one of his numerous eruptions. Any general manager who signs him should give the manager a $2M bonus and each of his teammates a million each for having to put up with this pychopath.

Man what are you guys smokin?

Any gm that gives bradley anything better than a $1 million deal loaded with incentives on the off chance he doesn't get hurt or suspended has got to be out of his mind or getting a kickback.

"some injuries" understates the case WAY too much--guy will be 30 and he's batted 500 times ONCE in his career; if we lower the bar to 400 times, he's batted 400 times.....once in his career....

It's true, Bradley seems to be a combination of the worst features of Baldelli and Dukes. So the issue for a GM is whether to gamble on one year that he stays healthy and sane or to gamble 4+ years and a lot more money that Jones, Rowand or Hunter will contribute enough. If he is wrong about Bradley, after one year perhaps the available outfielders are more appealing. But if wrong about one of the others, it could dent the team's chances for quite a while.

Bradley's OPS with the Padres....sample size issue. He is a streaky player, and he had a great offensive streak with SD. But he is a slightly above average offensive player, which would be nice in CF. However, the knee injury is about the worst thing that could happen to him. For a multi-tool player like Bradley, diminished speed will hurt a lot. For one thing, he may be a LFer instead of a CFer now. Here is an interesting idea, maybe an AL team which needs a cheap DH could take a chance on signing Bradley for a year. He could concentrate on his hitting, and perhaps show whether the streak with the Padres means anything. In the meantime, maybe he can rest his knee and avoid more injuries in that role. From his perspective, he could build himself up as an attractive corner OF candidate in future free agency...if it works out right.

1. CF Aaron Rowand (52.0). Who could have guessed that four days before Thanksgiving he would be the best player left on the market? A wild rumor making the rounds late in the season had Rowand seeking a six-year, $84-million contract, though those who know the outfielder claimed he was looking for a four-year, $40-million deal. Considering the paucity of impact players remaining, he just might get $84 million.

The Dodgers have emerged as the early leaders in the Rowand bidding, as the Phillies are more inclined to add pitching than re-sign their center fielder, and the Chicago White Sox have their sights set on Torii Hunter. It is telling that the Dodgers are chasing a center fielder just a year after giving Juan Pierre his five-year, $44-million contract as a free agent. You can almost picture Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti smacking his forehead in I-could-have-had-a-V-8 fashion.

3. CF Torii Hunter (39.2). Speaking of six years and $84 million, Hunter could very easily land that kind of deal from either the Rangers or the White Sox despite his weak on-base percentage and the wear and tear on his body from all that wall-banging in the Hump Dome. Hunter is an extremely engaging person, and it is easy to foresee Rangers owner Tom Hicks and GM Jon Daniels being charmed into bringing him to his adopted hometown.
Here is the issue. The excerpt is from John Perrotto at BP, "Any Given Sunday: Dregs". He lists the top 10 free agents according to 2007 VORP. Andruw Jones does not show up even in the next 10 he simply lists.

Suppose he is right that 29 year old Rowand and 31 year old Hunter get 6 years and $84 million? Both had a 2007 season that was one of the two best in their careers. Would a GM prefer that contract for one of them (assuming the need was an OF, not simply a CF) or a 1 year contract for Bradley at $8 million?

I agree with shtar above. No way Bradley gets anything but an incentive contract. He is too risky otherwise, both health and head!

How about 1 year at $5 million with incentives for games played and awards bringing it potentially as high as $8 million and a team option for 1 year with a $1 million buyout?
5 years and $70 million for Hunter, Jones or Rowand?

You are: Atlanta, White Sox, Twins, Dodgers, Other?
Take your pick.