Dodgers get Ethier for Bradley, Perez

Dodgers get Ethier for Bradley, Perez

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers resolved the sticky Milton Bradley situation on Tuesday, trading the talented but troubled outfielder, along with infielder Antonio Perez, for the Oakland A's best outfield prospect, Andre Ethier.

The trade was the first for new Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, who started reshaping the Dodgers roster earlier in the month by signing free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal. The deal frees up some payroll, as Bradley made $2.5 million in 2005.

Colletti indicated he might be close to acquiring another outfielder. Among the free agents in whom he is believed to be interested is veteran center fielder Kenny Lofton, viewed as a short-term replacement for Bradley. On the 2001 Cleveland Indians, Lofton was a starter and new Dodgers manager Grady Little was the bench coach.

Colletti described free agent Johnny Damon becoming a Dodger as "a long shot" and said free agent Jacque Jones "is seeking something more than we're comfortable with."

With Jayson Werth recovering from recent major wrist surgery, J.D. Drew's right shoulder slow in healing from surgery and Ricky Ledee's chronic hamstring limiting his playing time, the only healthy holdover outfielders on the 40-man roster are Jose Cruz Jr., Jason Repko, Cody Ross and Mike Edwards.

Bradley, a Long Beach native, was acquired by former general manager Paul DePodesta at the end of the 2004 Spring Training after a falling out with Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. He was suspended twice that season, once for a ball-throwing incident and again for taking a plastic bottle thrown at him by a fan and throwing it onto the ground in the stands.

He also had a clubhouse incident with a reporter during the 2004 playoffs and a clubhouse confrontation with teammate Jeff Kent in 2005, a season in which he was limited to 75 games because of a torn finger ligament and a torn patella tendon, the latter requiring surgery in September. On the field this year, Bradley hit .290 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs.

Colletti said he tried to mediate the Bradley situation and find a way to keep him with the Dodgers. But in talking to "people close to Bradley," it became apparent to Colletti that Bradley wanted out. Colletti said there was more to the decision than Bradley's soured relationship with Kent.

"It was clear there was no way to make this thing work," said Colletti, who spoke to Bradley for the first time on Tuesday when informing him of the trade. "No glimmer of hope. The more information I received, the more it became clear it was irreconcilable. In the conversations I had, it was so definitively strong that in his case, his interest was in moving on.

"It's more than disappointing. It's sad. The kid's got great talent. He was home. It could have been a match made in heaven."

Colletti said two other clubs were interested in Bradley, one known to be the Chicago Cubs, who reportedly were offering outfielder Corey Patterson.

Ethier, the Texas League Player of the Year, provides a quality prospect in an area (outfield) where an otherwise deep Dodgers farm system, according to Colletti, is thin. The 6-3, 195-pound 23-year-old was a second-round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State who signed for a $580,000 bonus.

He bats and throws left-handed and spent most of the 2005 season at Double-A Midland, where he hit .319 with 18 home runs, 80 RBIs, 104 runs and one stolen base. He also had a 15 at-bat callup to Triple-A.

Baseball America listed Ethier as the sixth-best prospect in the Texas League. According to the publication, Ethier has above-average defensive skills for the corner outfield positions, but not center field.

"He has a chance to be a very good everyday player," Colletti said of Ethier. "He has great makeup and great plate discipline. He'll probably start this year at Triple-A. He's in the mix, [ability-wise], with [Dodgers prospects] Andy LaRoche, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp and Joel Guzman. His upside should be very good."

Ethier led the recent Arizona Fall League with a .495 on-base percentage and ranked eighth in the league with a .366 batting average. As a Texas League All-Star, Ethier earned MVP honors in the midseason All-Star Game and at the end of the Arizona Fall League was honored with the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award.

Perez, 25, is a speedy, offensive-minded infielder who was unable, defensively, to win the third-base job and wound up in a utility role because of his shortcomings. His best position is second base, where the Dodgers are deepest. Colletti said Perez did not figure to make the 25-man roster and likely would have been claimed off waivers.

He was hit in the face by a pitch in the Dominican Winter League three weeks ago and suffered a slight fracture of his left cheekbone. For the Dodgers in 2005, Perez hit .297 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 98 games. His 11 stolen bases tied Werth for the team high.

With Bradley gone, the Dodgers have only two remaining players eligible for salary arbitration, Hee-Seop Choi and Jason Phillips.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.