Know Your Free Agents: Is Milton Bradley Worth a Shot?
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