Bradley, Rangers reach agreement
Pending physical, one-year deal worth $5M plus incentives
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington was asked at last week's Winter Meetings if he would be interested in free-agent outfielder Milton Bradley."I would be very comfortable with Milton Bradley," Washington said on Wednesday. The manager is getting his wish. The Rangers have reached an agreement with Bradley on a one-year contract worth approximately $5 million plus incentives, according to Major League officials Sunday. The deal is pending a physical, which is expected to take place sometime this week. Bradley is coming off surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee and it is unknown if he'll be ready for Opening Day. Rangers officials are not commenting until Bradley passes the physical and the deal is ready to be officially announced. The Rangers remain interested in Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, and there was a report in Nikkansports that he has decided to play in America next season. The White Sox, Cubs and Padres are also competing for his services.
The Rangers were also actively pursuing relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Eric Gagne, but they are going elsewhere. Hawkins appears headed for the Yankees and Gagne is expected to sign with the Brewers.The Rangers expressed their interest in Bradley at the Winter Meetings, but as of Thursday, it looked like he was returning to the Padres on a one-year, $4 million deal. Turns out the Rangers have come in and snatched him at the last minute. Bradley, who injured the knee in an argument with umpire Mike Winters on Sept. 23, had surgery on Sept. 27 and was expected to be out at least six months. That would take him right up to Opening Day and he may end up needing more time to get ready. Bradley has played center field in the past, but hasn't played regularly out there since 2005 with the Dodgers. He played right field for the Athletics in 2006 and left field for the Padres last year. Bradley, who turns 30 on April 15, has been a productive player over the course of an eight-year career, but has had a hard time staying healthy. Even before the knee injury, he was on the disabled list four times last season, twice because of a strained left hamstring muscle and once each for a strained calf muscle and a strained oblique muscle. Bradley, known for going all-out in the outfield, has been on the disabled list 12 times in the last six years. He has played more than 101 games in a season just once in his career. That was with the Dodgers in 2004, when he hit .267 while setting career highs with 19 home runs, 72 runs scored and 67 RBIs.
A switch-hitter, Bradley hit .306 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs in 61 games and 209 at-bats for the Padres and the Athletics this past season. He started the season with the Athletics, then was traded to the Padres on June 29. He hit .313 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs in 42 games and 144 at-bats down the stretch for the Padres before injuring his knee.Over every 162 games, Bradley hits .273 with an average of 85 runs scored, 32 doubles, 19 home runs, 75 RBIs and 16 stolen bases, according to baseball-reference.com. He is a career .310 hitter in postseason play with four home runs and eight RBIs in 42 at-bats. Bradley was originally drafted by the Expos in the second round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft out of Long Beach Polytechnic High School. He has played for the Expos, Indians, Dodgers, Athletics and Padres. The Indians traded him to the Dodgers just before the start of the 2004 season, when he clashed with manager Eric Wedge and he was suspended twice during the season because of altercations with umpires. But he was also the Dodgers' nominee for the 2005 Roberto Clemente Award and the players' nominee for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award because of his extensive work in the community. He has founded two baseball academies in the greater Los Angeles area. The Rangers are well aware of Bradley's history, but general manager Jon Daniels said at the Winter Meetings that they would do their own homework on him rather than rely on hearsay. Washington knows Bradley from their year together with the Athletics in 2006. Washington was asked about Bradley's reputation at the Winter Meetings and said, "No, I don't think I want to sit here and defend Milton. I want to let you know that if Milton were to become available to the Texas Rangers, we would like to have him." The Rangers have him, pending a physical.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.