Traded OF Milton Bradley to the Los Angeles Dodgers for OF Franklin Gutierrez and a PTBNL (by 6/30/04)
Regardless of whether you felt the Indians should have traded Bradley in the first place, they got maximum value for him. The PTBNL is of a different ilk than the one involved in the Ricky Gutierrez trade; it will be a high prospect as well, possibly in the Dodgers' Top 10. As I thumb through my trusty Baseball America Prospect Handbook, Defiance, Ohio native RHP Chad Billingsley would make quite a coup; his one year "anniversary" in the majors is 6-9-04, which would make him eligible for a trade.
I described Gutierrez below as a younger version of Alex Escobar, and the more I look at him, the more I think so. Depending on which publication you look at, he's either above or below Grady Sizemore on the prospect charts. But while Sizemore brings an all-around game to the table, Gutierrez has one of the best power prospects in baseball, and has a very high ceiling. His drawbacks are common to most young power hitters...he strikes out a lot, he gets pull-happy, and has a long swing. But hitting 20 HR in the Florida State League, the best pitcher's league in the minors, at age 20 is impressive. He'll join Jason Cooper and Ben Francisco in Akron, essentially taking recently traded Luke Scott's spot.
Obviously, this will hurt the major-league club unless Alex Escobar suddenly becomes Sammy Sosa. The Indians were going to struggle to score runs even before the trade, and now they will probably struggle even more. I doubt they score less runs than they did last year (they have quietly upgraded several positions in the lineup), but they certainly won't finish in the top half of the league in offense.
But given the circumstances, the Indians got as much value as they could have for a troubled young star.