Report: Bradley talks involve Blue Jays, Mets, Rays

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FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal said Monday that the Cubs and Mets have discussed a deal that would send Milton Bradley to New York for Luis Castillo and then onto Toronto for Lyle Overbay.
Rosenthal believes such a deal is a long shot, since the Jays don’t appear to be interested in a one-for-one trade. Perhaps that would change if the Cubs sent enough money along with Bradley.
Rosenthal also reported that the Rays have put a Pat Burrell-for-Bradley deal on the table, though they would want the Cubs to pick up a substantial portion of the $12 million that Bradley will make in 2011. Both Burrell and Bradley are due $9 million next year, but Burrell will then become a free agent.
As for the three-team deal, it’d only seem to make sense for the Jays if the Cubs kicked in most of Bradley’s 2011 salary. Castillo, who will earn $12 million for two years, has to be viewed as a bit more valuable than Bradley at $21 million. Overbay, at $7 million for one year, has more value than either.
The Mets would see Overbay as a nice one-year option at first base while they wait on prospect Ike Davis. They should be able to find a cheaper stopgap at second than they would at first, though it’s also possible that they could make Orlando Hudson a multiyear offer to fill that spot.
The Cubs have room for Castillo at second base and at the top of their order, but there’s been some talk of moving Ryan Theriot off shortstop. He’s below average there, and a Castillo-Theriot double-play combination would be less than stellar.
Bradley would make a lot of sense for the Jays at a modest price. Toronto needs some more upside in its offense, and the DH spot would be available for him. In the unlikely event of a trade, the Jays would probably put Adam Lind at first base. Bradley could play some outfield, but the club would still need a right fielder to replace Alex Rios.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.