General manager Jim Hendry had to get rid of Bradley, who was suspended for the final two weeks of the 2009 season because of conduct detrimental to the team. The problem for Hendry was finding a way to avoid eating all of the $21 million Bradley had left on the three-year, $30 million contract Hendry gave him last January.
After the Tampa Bay Rays looked to be the clear front-runner to land Bradley, Hendry finally found the match he wanted with the Seattle Mariners, as he obtained right-hander Carlos Silva, another bad contract.
The bottom line is that the Cubs got $9 million from the Mariners: $3 million to cover the difference in the two salaries with the remaining $6 million going for "salary relief" for Chicago in 2010 and 2011.
Now the Cubs have to find a bat to replace Bradley's in the middle of the lineup, his sub-par 2009 notwithstanding. Bradley hit only 12 homers and drove in 40 runs, but he got on base at a rate of .378.
Hendry has been talking with new Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who worked with center fielder Marlon Byrd in Texas. The right-handed-hitting Byrd seemed to be the top option for Hendry heading into Christmas.
Rick Ankiel, late of St. Louis, is a little farther down the list, but he hits left-handed, which could help the right-handed-heavy Cubs.
The Cubs say the money they received from Seattle will help them acquire players, but that they did not have to move Bradley first.
"The biggest perception that was probably inaccurate was that we couldn't do anything until Milton was gone," Hendry said. "So we have to do a good job of filling those two or three holes that we still have with solid decisions. The cash that we're receiving obviously helps that."
Other outfield options include re-signing free agent Reed Johnson -- a right-handed batter -- and Sam Fuld, who bats left-handed. In a perfect world, however, each of these two players would come off the bench and see limited starting action.
--Silva will compete for the fifth spot in the Cubs rotation. Failing that, he can be used in long relief. The Cubs say they have been encouraged by his work in Venezuela. Hendry said Silva had been clocked at 89-92 mph on his fastball. He was 1-3 with an 8.60 ERA this year with the Mariners after going 4-15 with a 6.46 ERA in 2008. Shoulder problems hampered Silva this year, but the Cubs say the 30-year-old veteran is healthy. He has two years left on a four-year, $48 million deal he signed with the Mariners after the 2007 season.
"We'll have our pitching people visit him in Venezuela," Hendry said. "Our strength and conditioning people will be down there. We'll do whatever we can to get him as close to back as to where he hopefully was a couple of years ago before we get to camp."
--LHP John Grabow reportedly tried to recruit RHP Matt Capps to Chicago, but Capps agreed to a deal with Washington. Grabow and Capps were teammates in Pittsburgh. The Cubs have been looking for a veteran right-handed reliever in addition to a center fielder. Grabow will be the Cubs' primary left-handed setup man to RHP Carlos Marmol. In 30 games with the Cubs after his July 30 trade from the Pirates, Grabow was 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA. He recently signed a two-year extension to stay with the Cubs.
--OF Jim Adduci will be an interesting player to watch in spring training. The Cubs liked him enough to put him on the 40-man roster, fearing he'd be taken quickly in the Rule 5 draft. Adduci, 24, is the son of onetime big-leaguer Jim Adduci, Sr. At Class AA Tennessee this year, Adduci batted .300 in 131 games with four homers, 51 RBIs and a .377 on-base percentage. The Cubs toyed with bringing him up in September when they opted instead for Tyler Colvin. Adduci, who bats and throws left-handed, has a strong throwing arm. He'll likely open the season at Class AAA Iowa.
--Fuld batted .241 with two doubles, three triples and five RBIs over six games in Venezuela. Fuld's name has been talked about for some sort of role in the Cubs' outfield in 2010. A speedy outfielder and a good defender, he can play all three spots. He played in 65 games for the Cubs this year after opening at Class AAA Iowa. Fuld had a cup of coffee in 2007, but a rough spring in '08 put him in the minor leagues all of that year. He bats left-handed, and although he doesn't possess much power, he got on at a .358 clip at Iowa this year and stole 23 bases.
--For the first time in several springs, the Cubs will be set at catcher with Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill. One player to watch is Robinson Chirinos, who had tore it up in Venezuela. Chirinos is not on the 40-man roster, but he may get a spring invite and push top catching prospect Welington Castillo, who is on the 40-man roster. Chirinos, 25, was converted from infielder to catcher before last season. At Class (High) A Daytona, he batted .300 with 11 homers and 47 RBIs before getting promoted to Class AA. In his first 47 games of winter ball in Venezuela, Chirinos was batting .369 with 10 homers, 34 RBIs and a 1.075 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. If the Cubs need a catcher from the minors in 2010, it's not out of the question that Chirinos could be their man.
BY THE NUMBERS: .336 -- 1B Derrek Lee's average after the All-Star break, when he hit 18 of his 35 homers. Lee batted .280 in the first half.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Obviously, when expectations weren't met, and the criticism started in his direction, I certainly don't think he handled it well. Once you go down that path, as you know, we're playing on the big stage. If you want the big stage, you've got to be able to perform on the big stage." -- Hendry, on why the Bradley experiment didn't work in Chicago.