Padres would take chance on Bradley

When Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry begins aggressively shopping troubled outfielder Milton Bradley this winter, don't be surprised if one of his first phone calls is to San Diego.

Padres GM Kevin Towers said Friday that he would be open-minded about discussing Bradley, who played 42 games with San Diego in 2007 before blowing out his knee in an on-field altercation.

"I haven't had any calls from Jim about him," Towers told ESPN.com. "But I think people kind of know what players we target. We have to take chances sometimes. We took a chance on Milton the first time we had him, and he actually played pretty well [before the injury].

"We could be in the market for an outfielder. I'm not saying it's necessarily Milton. But our experience with him was rather a positive one. It wasn't really a negative one."

Bradley's tenure in Chicago is almost certainly over after a whirlwind series of events last week. The Cubs sent Bradley home last Sunday after he gave a newspaper interview criticizing the team for its lack of a "positive environment" and saying, "You understand why they haven't won in 100 years here."

Amid reports of a possible Players Association grievance, the Cubs worked out an agreement with agents Seth and Sam Levinson. The Cubs agreed to pay Bradley the $400,000 owed him for the rest of the season, even though he remains suspended, and Bradley issued an apology. In return, no grievance was filed.

"I chose Chicago as a free agent because I wanted to be part of finally bringing a championship to Cubs fans," Bradley said in a written statement. "I expected to have a great season and I am deeply disappointed by my performance and the team's struggles."

After signing a three-year, $30 million deal with Chicago last winter, Bradley quickly fell out of favor with Cubs fans because of his lack of production. He hit .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs, and became the focus of vigorous booing at Wrigley Field.

Hendry will find it a challenge to move Bradley for two reasons: The Cubs still owe Bradley $21 million over the next two seasons, and Bradley has developed a reputation for volatility in his seven previous stops in the majors. It's likely that any club with an interest in acquiring Bradley would want Chicago to pick up a significant portion of his salary.

Towers declined to talk about Bradley in depth, in light of baseball's tampering rules, but said the Padres believe they can take risks on certain players because of the low-key environment in San Diego and the relative lack of media attention.

"San Diego is different than Chicago," he said.

The Padres acquired Bradley from Oakland in a trade for pitcher Andrew Brown on June 29, 2007. Bradley hit .313 with a 1.004 OPS in 144 at-bats as a Padre, but his season ended prematurely because of a knee injury. Bradley tore his right ACL while being restrained by Padres manager Bud Black during an argument with umpire Mike Winters, and underwent surgery to repair the tear.

Bradley signed with Texas in December 2007, led the American League with a .999 OPS in 2008 and was the American League's starting designated hitter in the All-Star Game.

Towers has acknowledged the Padres' need to upgrade the offense in 2010. The Padres have a 33-21 record and a .611 winning percentage since July 28, but they're tied for 27th among the 30 major league teams in runs scored.

Jerry Crasnick is a baseball writer for ESPN.com.