For those who missed it last year, here is a piece Alan Schwarz did on Milton Bradley. Schwarz is probably my favorite baseball writer, and this article is one of the reasons why. He does not deny that Bradley is a jerk and treats people like crap, but also helps you understand that there is a reason for his actions. It doesn’t give him a free pass-he’s still responsible for choosing to be a prick-but it helps provide context.
While this is all idle speculation, I have to think the Mariners, if interested, could come up with one of the more attractive packages of any team courting Bradley. Most of the rumors floating around are not realistic scenarios, and do not address the issue of the Indians receiving players in return they can use. While the M’s would certainly be better off throwing Quinton McCracken into any deal for Bradley, Cleveland has no need for outfielders, as it is their position of greatest depth in the organization. And while every team seeks pitching, the Indians also have several handfuls of mid-level arms that they’re going to have to find room for on the 40 man roster after this year, and will be likely be more interested in quailty than quantity. They have a plethora of guys like Baek and Livingston, and finding spots in their minor league rotations would become an issue.
So, what do the Indians need?
1. A frontline, major league ready starter.
2. Offensive middle infielders.
3. Catching depth.
Realistically, I believe they would ask for Nageotte in any trade. The asking price last summer was “Nageotte plus one or two others”, but he was reportedly the key piece. Due to this latest blowup, I have to imagine the price would be a bit lower, and the Indians would be tempted by a Nageotte for Bradley offer. And I would do this in a heartbeat.
Realistically, Nageotte is very high risk prospect. His mechanics are questionable, especially the somewhat awkward landing of his front foot that can cause his release point to slip. He relies heavily on his slider and has accumulated a large workload the past two years. His command is still a work in progress and he doesn’t have a major league changeup. Right now, he’s closer to Jeff Nelson than a staff ace. The potential is certainly there, and teams love his combination of velocity, wicked slider, and great strikeout rates. But there’s a very high probability that Nageotte’s stock will go down before it goes up, and this is likely one of the best times to trade him. I know the M’s love pitching, but Nageotte is not the kind of once-in-a-lifetmie talent that you refuse to move, and Milton Bradley is an established major league star at a position of need. I absolutely make that trade.
If, however, the M’s decide Nageotte is off the table, I still believe they could get the deal done. A package of Jose Lopez, Rene Rivera, and a midlevel arm (Looper, Putz, or Cate, for instance) could appeal to Cleveland. Despite the positive press he’s been getting this spring, scouts are still split on Lopez, and he doesn’t have minor league numbers that a good organization like Cleveland often looks for. There are quite a few holes in his game, and whether Bob Melvin thinks he’s going to be an all-star or not, he doesn’t have as much trade value as most believe. Rivera is an intriguing prospect, but again, someone you can give up in a deal for a player like Bradley.
Certainly, both of these options would appeal to the Indians moreso than some of the other rumored packages floating around the internet. It is clear that the M’s have prospects at areas of need that would interest Cleveland. It will be interesting to see just how aggressive the front office is in using those pieces to obtain a player that could make the difference in the A.L. West.