01/05/09 6:31 PM EST
Bradley to travel to Chicago for physical
Outfielder may sign a three-year deal on Thursday or Friday
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Switch-hitter Milton Bradley is expected in Chicago later this week to undergo a physical, and if all goes well, will sign a three-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs.
Bradley, 30, led the American League in on-base percentage last year while batting .321 with 22 homers for Texas. Other teams had been courting the free agent, including the Rays, who opted instead to sign outfielder Pat Burrell to a two-year deal.
FoxSports.com reported the Bradley deal will be finalized after the two sides work through "language issues" in the contract. The Cubs would not confirm the reports but sources did say Bradley will be in Chicago Thursday or Friday to undergo a physical.
The Cubs have been searching for a way to break up the overload of right-handed hitters in Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto, and on New Year's Eve, dealt another right-handed hitter, Mark DeRosa, to the Indians.
With the addition of two switch-hitters in Bradley and Aaron Miles, acquired last week, plus lefty bats Kosuke Fukudome, Joey Gathright and Mike Fontenot, the Cubs appear to have the potential for a much more balanced lineup in '09.
Bradley did spend most of last season as the Rangers' designated hitter and has had injury problems. He played only 20 games in the outfield last season, and has played more than 100 games in the field just once in his career, in 2004 with the Dodgers. Fukudome, a solid defensive player who struggled at the plate in his first year in the Major Leagues, could move to center and then sub for Bradley in late innings defensively if needed.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who likes using his bench, can use Reed Johnson, who is able to play all three outfield positions.
This will be Bradley's seventh team and fifth in the past five seasons. He can be a force on the field but also has had run-ins with managers and fans in the past.
"I know he has that reputation of being a hothead," Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster told the Chicago Tribune last week when asked about Bradley, "but you hear from guys who played with him and they all say he's a great teammate. Obviously, he'll bring a pretty powerful dynamic to our lineup."
A career .280 hitter, he was elected to the All-Star team for the first time in his career this past season. Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry worked with Bradley when the two were together in Oakland.
"Milton wants to win as much as any player I've ever been around," Rangers manager Ron Washington told the Sporting News recently. "Sometimes, that's misunderstood, and that's unfortunate. Milton gets a bad rap, and it's not because he doesn't care. It's because he cares too much."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.