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Tampa Bay Rays need Chicago Cubs to swallow some of Milton Bradley's contract if trade is to happen

INDIANAPOLIS — Cubs officials showed up at the winter meetings Sunday "confident" they'll be able to trade talented but oft-troubled outfielder Milton Bradley.

Rays officials arrive today and may get a sense of how serious they are.

The Rays have some interest in bringing in Bradley, 31, in exchange for DH Pat Burrell, 33, but the finances of such a deal are a major issue, specifically a potential difference of $15 million due the players.

Both make $9 million in 2010, but Bradley has a $13 million salary for 2011 plus can earn $2 million over the two seasons through incentives.

So whether there is even a deal worth talking about likely will come down to how much the Cubs are willing to put toward that difference.

If the finances are workable — and thus far they are not, with some reports that the Cubs are willing to put in only $5 million or so — then the Rays have to decide if they are willing to take on the 31-year-old switch-hitter who has caused controversy on and off the field at times but produced impressively when happy and healthy: a career .277 average, .371 on-base percentage and .821 OPS.

The Rays had interest in signing Bradley at last year's winter meetings — enough that executive VP Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon took him to lunch — and Maddon said he wouldn't have any concerns with bringing him aboard now.

"For me, I would have no problems whatsoever if he became part of our organization," Maddon said. "If that were to ever happen, I'm pretty sure we'd get along pretty well."

Maddon said the lunch session revealed a different side of Bradley, and he also heard good things from close friend Bud Black, who managed Bradley in San Diego in 2007.

"You get all this what you hear, what you see and obviously some of the things that he has done," Maddon said. "Then you sit with him and you get a totally different perspective on him. … I found him to be a bright, thoughtful, family oriented kind of a guy. So I thought he was interesting."

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry wasn't saying much about the situation. "He's on the team until he's not," Hendry said.

The Cubs supposedly have three teams interested. Another is Texas, where Bradley had a tremendous 2008 season, but with the team for sale it could be a risky move — and something of a last resort — for general manager Jon Daniels to make without knowing how new ownership would view the acquisition. No third team has been identified.

MORE RAYS: Left-hander Brian Shouse has until midnight tonight to accept arbitration, but he is more likely to decline and remain a free agent. … The search for relief help includes some, but not a lot of, interest in arbitration-eligible Matt Lindstrom, who is likely to be traded by the Marlins but is coming off an elbow injury.

AROUND THE MAJORS: The Mariners' big-bucks deal with Brandon's Chone Figgins (a reported four years, $36 million) should be official today or Tuesday. … Cubs manager Lou Piniella expressed interest over the weekend in extending his contract, which ends after this season. … The Royals are working on finalizing a deal with Cuban left-hander Noel Arguelles.

Tampa Bay Rays need Chicago Cubs to swallow some of Milton Bradley's contract if trade is to happen 12/06/09 [Last modified: Sunday, December 6, 2009 9:51pm]

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