The Bradley Conundrum

There’s one pending free agent who, I will happily admit, I have no idea what kind of contract he is going to get this winter. I feel like no matter what I guess, I have a great chance of being amazingly wrong, because there are so many positives and so many negatives in the equation.

That player, of course, is Milton Bradley.

On the plus side, he’s been the best hitter in the American League this year. Combined with his excellent 2007 performance, he’s now strung together 515 at-bats of MVP caliber offense. He’s a switch-hitter, he gets on base, he hits for power, and he can still run a little bit. He’s just 30 years old and is showing no signs of physical decline. And, while he’s DH’d most of this year, he can still play a decent corner outfield if need be.

However, this is still the same guy who wore out his welcome in Montreal, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Oakland. This is a guy who has gotten more than 400 at-bats in a season once in his entire career. This is a guy who has fought with coaches, teammates, and fans. He’s a guy with with a 1.282 OPS in Texas and an .852 OPS on the road.

His Marcel true talent level pegs him as a .291/.388/.502 hitter, which makes him the best hitter available this winter. That should earn him a nice paycheck, but if he decides he wants to stay at DH, that rules out half the teams in baseball as suitors. If a team pursues him as an outfielder, can they count on him to play more than half a season?

And, of course, there’s the personality stuff. He’s done well in Texas, but when four franchises have already decided that he’s not worth the headache, there’s a real reason why. Would he fit in with a new club? Or wear out his welcome in Texas?

It seems like the best fit is for him to stay in Texas, where he’s found his greatest success and seems genuinely happy. But how much should the Rangers give him to DH when they already have more bats than spots in the line-up while they’re rebuilding?

I could see Bradley getting a 4 year, $50 million contract from someone. I could see Bradley settling for a one year, $10 million deal. I could see anything in between.

What would you offer Milton Bradley this winter?

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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15 years ago

Wow. This is the toughest question ever. I would try getting him to accept an incentive laden contract to looks something like this.

• 1 year / 7mil (2009), plus 2010-2011 vesting option
o 09: $7M, 10: $11M vesting option, 11: $12M vesting option
o 2010 option guaranteed with 450 PAs 2009
o 2011 option guaranteed with 925 PAs 2010-2011

Those of you familiar with the Cot’s Contracts site can tell that ripped off how they break down contract details. With that said, I’m not sure how a team could justify giving him guaranteed money for 2 or more years with his personality and health issues.