A deal on Milton Bradley? You're buying a lemon

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The Chicago Cubs are eager to get rid of Milton Bradley. That much is clear.

And here is Jim Hendry’s pitch to potential trade partners (as imagined by yours truly):

Milton Bradley is a fine young man who is generally misunderstood. He has a wealth of talent, much of it as yet untapped. Just look at his career line of .277/.371/.450! Who couldn’t use that on their team? I know there was some controversy surrounding him in Chicago this past season but I’ll tell you how I’m going to help you forget about that: I’m going to eat half of the remaining $21 million left on his contract. Just for you, because I like you. How’s that sound for a deal? Are you ready to sign? *Pulls out pen*

Hendry’s used-car pitch is apparently effective. There have been rumors of a trade in the works with Toronto, as Matthew detailed earlier today. And the Rangers, obviously remembering Bradley’s league-leading .999 OPS in 2008, have shown interest in bringing him back.

Enter Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, who makes a point-by-point plea for the Rangers to avoid such temptation.

Grant mentions the poor 2009 season Bradley had in Chicago, and his durability issues (124 games in 2009, 126 in 2008), but things get even more interesting when the author gets into chemistry issues.

Bradley said after signing with the Cubs that he didn’t play in some selected games with the Rangers down the stretch in 2008 to protect his statistics in order to put himself in the best negotiating position. The Rangers have harped on a team-first approach as a big rallying cry for the 2010 season. There is no way that Bradley’s comments and actions can be viewed as anything but selfish.

I hadn’t heard that story before, but from everything I’ve seen about Bradley, it’s hardly surprising. Wherever he goes, Bradley makes himself the centerpiece story. He never shies from telling everyone how the world is out to get him, or how he has been wronged in some way.

It has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. With 10 big-league seasons under his belt, Bradley does get ripped frequently, sometimes unfairly. But when you spend your career going on self-indulgent diatribes, hurling things at fans, throwing temper tantrums, trying to charge press boxes, and insulting your fan base, you’re going to get a lot less slack from fans and writers alike.

So if you’re the Blue Jays, Rangers, or any other team sniffing out a potential bargain in Milton Bradley, don’t be fooled by Hendry’s spin. And think long and hard about what kind of presence you want in your clubhouse and on your roster.

Remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Four teams are in on Mike Moustakas

Mike Moustakas
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Free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas is drawing interest from at least four clubs, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Friday. The Brewers are the presumed frontrunners to land the infielder, but Heyman adds that the Angels may take the inside edge as Moustakas hails from the San Fernando Valley and has invested in charity efforts in California over the last year. The Phillies and Padres, on the other hand, have been involved to a lesser degree as they’re both thought to be in hot pursuit of fellow free agent third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado, though their interest in the veteran Moustakas could ramp right back up should they lose out on Machado in the weeks to come.

Moustakas, 30, declined a $15 million mutual option with the Brewers at the end of the 2018 season, and like many others left on the market, has yet to find a landing spot in advance of spring training. While he’s several years removed from his last All-Star performance, he ran a decent campaign with the Royals and Brewers last year, slashing a combined .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs, a .774 OPS, and 2.4 fWAR across 635 plate appearances.

He certainly appears to be a fit in Anaheim, where he could supplant Zack Cozart at the hot corner and balance out the Angels’ right-heavy lineup alongside Kole Calhoun, Justin Bour, and Tommy La Stella. Even if the Angels have serious interest in the third baseman, however, they’re likely to wait and see what kind of contract Machado (and the as-yet unsigned Bryce Harper) fetches before extending any serious offers of their own. They’re far from the only club to use the four-time All-Star as a litmus test this offseason, which has only fueled a growing unrest among MLB players who believe that more serious action — such as a midseason walk-out or a league-wide strike — will need to be taken over the next few months.