Looking at the career numbers of the 3 outfielders, they are very similar in terms of production:
Adam Dunn--- AVG: .247 OBP: .381 SLG: .518
Bobby Abreu--- AVG: .300 OBP: .405 SLG: .498
Milton Bradley--- AVG: .280 OBP: .370 SLG: .457
If anything, those players have far better career numbers than Bradley. That doesn't even take injuries or age into account either. Abreu is 34, but that hardly matters in terms of his contract since it is only 1 year and not a long-term commitment. Adam Dunn is actually 29, a year younger than Bradley at 30. Both Dunn and Abreu have been considerably healthier during their careers than the fragile Bradley as well.
I'm not trying to say that Bradley will be bad or that he was a bad acquisition. It just seems that with all the salary jockeying the Cubs have been doing, this deal to Bradley is unnecessarily expensive. Hendry clearly misjudged the market for free agent outfielders. It is easy to say that in hindsight, the market was way lower than Hendry had thought. But looking at all the factors, there were a bunch of decent quality outfielders available and not a lot of teams out there looking. Is the difference between Bradley's actual contract and what the market would have afforded him today what handcuffed Hendry on the Peavy deal? We will never know, but right now it looks like our ne'er do wrong GM may have made a bad miscalculation.
***UPDATE: A few things have been brought to my attention in the last couple hours since making this post. Thanks to NQTC reader Gavin, who pointed out a few things in the comments and a few things to me directly. Looks like I was wrong about Hendry being fleeced:
Phillies signed Raul Ibanez - 3 years, $31.5 million on 12/19/08.Also, it appears that the Dunn deal was actually for 2 years and $20 million dollars. This is what I get for doubting Hendry.
Tampa Bay singed Pat Burrell - 2 years, $16 million on 01/08/09.
The Cubs signed Bradley officially on 01/27/09. So it's not as if they went completely out of the range for outfielder's this offseason. It doesn't appear that there were that many high-level OF's out there this off-season but once these guys were signed before Bradley, I'm surprised the Cubs didn't try to play Bradley, Dunn and Abreu off each other to at least make Bradley think they could go elsewhere to get a left handed bat.