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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

December 18, 2009 at 8:51 AM

Shocker: Mariners trade Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley

UPDATE: Geoff has Jack Zduriencik’s take on the trade from his conference call.

The Seattle Mariners have found a way to get rid of one of their last lingering problems. The club today traded Carlos Silva, who still has two years remaining on the four-year, $48 million contract given him by former general manager Bill Bavasi before the 2008 season, to the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Milton Bradley.

The deal, first reported by the Seattle Times, brings the Mariners an outfielder who has been involved in controversy throughout his career, but also has been an extremely productive player as recently as 2008. That year, with the Texas Ranger, Bradley hit .321, third-best in the American League, and led the league with a .436 on-base percentage. He hit 22 homers, drove in 77 runs, and made the American League All-Star team.

“We have been looking to add offense to our club and in Milton have a player who has always gotten on base and has the ability to drive in runs,” Zduriencik said. “He is passionate about winning, as we are, and we believe he’ll be a good fit here.”

Bradley signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs after the ’08 season and suffered through a tumultuous season. He was suspended for arguing with an umpire, and sent home in the middle of a game by Cubs manager Lou Piniella. Bradley, a 31-year-old switch-hitter, figures to play left field and designated hitter for the Mariners. In 124 games for the Cubs last year, Bradley hit .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs.

The money remaining on both contracts is similar. Bradley has $22 million left on his contract (not $21 million as earlier reported) — $9 million in 2010, $13 million in 2011. Silva has $25 million remaining — $11.5 million in ’10 and ’11, with a $2 million buyout on a 2012 option. The Chicago Tribune reported that the Mariners will send $9 million to the Cubs — that accounts for the $3 million difference in salary, plus another $5 million.

I understand why the Mariners are making this move — Silva has absolutely no role on the team any more after two disastrous seasons and little hope for a turnaround. He went 4-15, 6.46 in 2008, and was 1-3, 8.60 in eight games in ’09, spending most of the year on the disabled list. Bradley, at least, is healthy and can be very productive when he’s focused and happy. They have faith that manager Don Wakamatsu will be able to foster a good relationship with Bradley, as Texas manager Ron Washington did, and that he will contribute to an offense that needs what Bradley, at peak performance, can offer.

Worst case, they can always cut him — the M’s probably weren’t going to get anything from Silva any way, so that money was lost regardless. Best case, they have a motivated, resurrected offensive performer to stick in the middle of their lineup. The Cubs had been trying all winter to trade Bradley, talking most seriously with Tampa Bay and Texas, but to no avail — until now.

One interesting sidelight: In 2004 the Indians traded Bradley to the Dodgers for…Franklin Gutierrez. (And the Dodgers traded him to the A’s for…Andre Ethier.)

The thing to remember about Bradley is that for all his issues — and they have been numerous, which is why he’s played for seven teams since 2001 — he is a very likable guy most of the time — between outbursts. Here’s what Joe Maddon, manager of Tampa Bay, told the Tampa Tribune earlier in the winter:

“I’m not a head-in-the-sand kind of guy. I’m aware of what occurred and I know. But I’ve talked to Buddy Black, and Buddy is a good friend of mine. He had nothing but good things to say about him.”’

Black managed Bradley in San Diego. In fact, he was restraining Bradley from going after an umpire when Bradly injured his right knee in 2007.

Maddon also said: “You get all this, what you hear, what you see, and obviously, some of the things he had done. Then you sit with him and get a totally different perspective on him, and I’ve talked to people who have had him and I hear a lot of good stuff. For me, I would have no problem whatsoever if he became part of our organization. I find it would be interesting to work with.”

In the same article was another quote on Bradley, this one from Rangers manager Ron Washington, who coached Bradley in Oakland and coaxed his best season in 2008 with Texas.

“I don’t have the formula to why Milton did what he did for us, but I had Milton in Oakland, and I handled Milton like a man,” Washington said. “I called him out when it was time to call him out and he accepted it. Milton is a very smart guy, and he knows when he’s done wrong. I just didn’t let it fester…He certainly enjoyed all of his teammates and the atmosphere that we created there. There’s no one thing that I can say that I worked some magic on. I just treated Milton like I treated everyone else, like a man.”

Jon Heyman of SI first reported that the two teams were talking about a trade.

I’m genuinely interested to see the result of this poll. Judging by the early comments, I’d say it’s 55-45 in favor. (Make that 75-25). (UPDATE: Wow, make that 90-10!!!)

Do you think trading Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley is a good move by the Mariners?(answers)

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