A's get Bradley, Perez in deal with LA
Oakland acquires talented duo for top prospect
Mildly frustrated by his inability to reach new Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti at last week's annual Winter Meetings in Dallas, A's general manager Billy Beane stopped pursuing a trade for Los Angeles outfielder Milton Bradley and shifted his focus to free agent slugger Frank Thomas.
At some point after Beane left Dallas, the lines of communication with Colletti clearly opened. The A's on Tuesday announced they've traded top outfield prospect Andre Ethier to the Dodgers in exchange for Bradley and infielder Antonio Perez.
"We've been having conversations on this trade for about a month," Beane said in a conference call. "Really, in the last 48 hours is when we were able to bring it to its conclusion."
If healthy, Bradley, whose two stints on the disabled list limited him to 75 games last season, addresses Oakland's need for another bat -- Bradley is a switch-hitter -- in the middle of the order to team with third baseman Eric Chavez.
"He's a guy who can hit around Chavvy, which is something we probably needed pretty badly [last season]," Beane said. "He's also an outstanding defensive player, and he runs well. He pretty much does everything well. He's a very versatile player."
As is Perez, who addresses the need for a quality backup to Chavez, who decided not to have offseason shoulder surgery and has said he'll likely limit his throwing in 2006.
"Antonio will spell Eric on some given days and allow him to go into the designated hitter spot once in a while," Beane said.
Bradley, 27, made $2.5 million last season -- he's eligible for arbitration -- while batting .290 with 13 homers, 38 RBIs and a .350 on-base percentage. His year ended with surgery on his left knee in August, and he spent time on the disabled list in June with a torn ligament in his right ring finger.
"We've been keeping up on the medicals [on Bradley] as far back as a month ago," Beane said. "It's not something to be concerned about, really. We may have to take it easy in Spring Training, but that's more of a precaution."
Despite being an obvious on-the-field fit for the A's, Bradley has a long history of off-the-field problems that includes run-ins with managers, teammates, fans and police.
Last year alone, Bradley was accused of choking his pregnant wife and accused teammate Jeff Kent of being a racist. The year before that, he was traded from the Indians during Spring Training after not running out a ground ball and getting into an argument with manager Eric Wedge. Later in the year he was suspended twice -- once for throwing a plastic bottle into the stands at Dodger Stadium, once for an extended post-ejection tantrum -- before nearly coming to blows in the clubhouse with a sportswriter during the playoffs.
He also spent some time in jail while with the Indians for bolting on police after a routine traffic stop.
While in Dallas, Beane didn't discuss Bradley specifically, but he conceded that character issues are taken into consideration when he's thinking of adding a player.
"Any trade you make, that should certainly go into your thinking," he said. "It's something you have to consider, no question, and that's out of respect for the guys already here."
On Tuesday, Beane said he didn't want to spend much time discussing Bradley's checkered past and talked up the overall strength of character in the Oakland clubhouse.
"This environment will be a great environment for everyone involved," he offered. "We have a welcoming clubhouse and one that we think Milton, along with the rest of the players, will thrive in."
The addition of Bradley doesn't mean the A's no longer are pursuing Thomas, but even without Thomas, Oakland's offense -- and defensive versatility -- appears much-improved.
"This doesn't necessarily eliminate the possibility that we can do some other things," Beane noted. "That being said, I like this team as it sits on paper right now. We don't play on paper, but we're very pleased with what we've done thus far. This is one of the few offseasons we've added players without subtracting."
A natural center fielder, Bradley likely will start in right field with Oakland, but he'll be able to spell starting center fielder Mark Kotsay, who suffers from recurring back spasms. Nick Swisher, who spent much of his rookie season in right field, will be moved to first base, moving Dan Johnson, a unanimous pick to the 2005 Topps All-Rookie team as a first baseman, to designated hitter. Outfielder Bobby Kielty, like Swisher a switch-hitter, also figures to log significant playing time, either in left field, right field or at DH.
Perez, who turns 26 in January, batted .297 with three homers, 23 RBIs and a .360 on-base percentage in 98 games last season while making $320,500. He played in 35 games at third base, 29 at second, nine at shortstop and one in left field.
"This certainly gives us a lot of versatility as far as resting guys," Beane said.
Ethier, who was named the Texas League (Double-A) Player of the Year last season, saw his stock rise considerably after he tore up the Arizona Fall League, batting .366 with 12 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs and a .495 on-base percentage in 23 games. He turns 24 in April.
"He is a good prospect, and it was difficult, and it was one we went back and forth on internally," Beane said of Ethier. "Ultimately, at the end of the day ... we just thought the value this could bring to the 2006 team was worth that risk in giving up a potentially very good player."
Mychael Urban is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.