Revisiting the Bradley/Silva trade

They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Well, ask general managers Jack Zduriencik and Jim Hendry of the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs respectively, and I think they would attest that this is not always the case.

The Mariners and Cubs completed a deal in December 2009 that really boiled down to an exchange of disastrous contracts. On the one hand you had the Mariners who signed RHP Carlos Silva to an absurd 4 year, $48 million contract in December of 2007 under former GM Bill Bavasi.

It was ill-advised then and proved to be one of the worst contracts in baseball history through two years of his tenure in Seattle. Silva went 5-18 with an ERA of 6.87 combined in his two seasons with the Mariners and dozens of second helpings during postgame meals.

After that 2009 campaign in which Silva was shelved early on with bogus shoulder tendinitis — an excuse not to pitch him — new GM Zduriencik agreed with Cubs GM Hendry to swap headaches.

You see, the Cubs had a thorn in the side of their own in the hot-tempered Milton Bradley who had just completed the first season of a 3 year, $36 million contract he had signed in 2008.

After a year in which Bradley hit .257 with a meager 12 homers, 40 RBI and an OPS of .775 while being combative with both the Chicago media and fans, Bradley was on the outside looking in with the Cubs organization.

The Mariners were in desperate need of some pop in their lineup as well as desperate to get rid of the bad influence that the overweight and lazy Silva was on the rest of their pitching staff (namely Felix Hernandez) while the Cubs were just desperate to be rid of Bradley.

So the teams made a deal, probably figuring it couldn’t really be any worse. Although the years and money left on the deals were virtually identical (Silva was owed $24 million while Bradley was owed $23 million), the Mariners shipped over an additional $9 million to compensate the Cubs because Silva was by far the worst contributor of the two.

Now 17 months later, neither player is with their respective organization after Milton Bradley was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Monday.

Bradley hit a combined .209 with 10 homers and 42 RBI in 101 games for the Mariners while Silva went 10-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 2010 for the Cubs. Silva got off to an 8-0 start with the Cubs but soon regressed due to poor conditioning and the resulting loss of bite on his sinker. After a terrible spring training in 2011, the Cubs tried to move Silva to the bullpen only to be rebuffed and ultimately cut him despite the remaining money on his deal. Silva is now in AAA with the New York Yankees organization.

Obviously neither team benefited from the deal in a profound way. Both teams rid themselves of one headache only to find themselves with a migraine. Yet the Mariners were able to rid themselves of the poor influence that Silva was and watch Hernandez blossom into a Cy Young pitcher as well as open a rotation spot for new prodigy Michael Pineda. Bradley at least gave the inept offense some pop while there was virtually no other option to go to. Now that there is, he’s gone.

That will be Bradley’s legacy as a Mariner. He was a stop gap player only here because of the disastrous signing of Carlos Silva and nothing else. Facing a lose-lose situation, the Mariners wrote off the Silva signing as a sunk cost in 2009. Anything Bradley could add would just be a bonus.

In the end, both teams washed their hands clean and probably learned not to go to yard sales anytime soon.


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