The A's swiftly cut ties with the switch hitter Thursday, designating Bradley for assignment in a move that no doubt ends his tenure with the team.
General manager Billy Beane spun it as the best option not only for his organization but for Bradley himself, saying there was no way Bradley would find his name in the lineup regularly with the overabundance of outfielders the A's soon will have.
"We had some guys coming back (from injury) and there was going to be some playing-time issues," Beane said in a media teleconference. "Milton sees himself as an everyday player, and I think that he is. This will give him a chance to be that somewhere else. This was being proactive instead of reactive."
The A's have 10 days to trade Bradley, release him or offer him a minor league assignment, which Bradley surely would reject. Beane said the next few days should reveal what kind of interest Bradley sparks from other teams.
A trade would save the A's about $2 million. If Bradley is released or turns down a minor-league assignment, Oakland will be responsible for most of his entire $4 million salary this season.
The move provides an abrupt ending to Bradley's 11/2-season stay in Oakland after the A's obtained him and infielder Antonio Perez from the Los Angeles Dodgers before the 2006 season in exchange for outfielder Andre Ethier.
The optimist will recall the flashes of brilliance Bradley, 29, displayed when healthy, particularly his 9-for-18 showing in last season's American League Championship Series.
But more likely, A's fans will remember a player who teased with his ability only to land time and again on the disabled list. Bradley made five trips to the DL after coming to the A's, three this season alone.
Bradley hit .276 in 96 games last season with 14 homers and 52 RBI. He had played in just 19 games this season with a .292 average, two home runs and seven RBI.
He'd just been activated from the DL before Wednesday's game against the Cincinnati Reds after dealing with a strained right calf.
"It's not just him, we've had a lot of injuries," Beane said. "Those things happen. It's part of the game. It's his free-agent year and he wants to play. Our frustration with his injuries had no part of it."
There was a sign that something was amiss after Wednesday's game. An obviously angry Bradley left the clubhouse after meeting with Beane, threw a couple chairs as he walked up a flight of stairs and unleashed some expletives.
A Bay Area newspaper also reported that Bradley walked off the field after batting practice Tuesday and talked loudly about how his calf had healed yet he still hadn't been activated from the DL.
Bradley was unavailable for comment Thursday, and his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, did not return phone messages.
Beane would not expand on Wednesday's discussion, when Bradley was notified of the decision to let him go, and Beane also said he hadn't discussed with Bradley his frustration Tuesday.
Considering the direction the organization has gone this season, Bradley's departure isn't so surprising. The A's clearly want to give young players such as rookie outfielder Travis Buck a chance to develop.
Buck has been a mainstay in the lineup and has gotten the nod over veteran Shannon Stewart, especially since center fielder Mark Kotsay came off the disabled list June 1. The A's soon will welcome back outfielders Bobby Kielty and Chris Snelling from the disabled list, further complicating playing time.
"With all the depth in the outfield something was going to give," third baseman Eric Chavez said. " ... If it had been Shannon Stewart, I wouldn't have been surprised. If it had been Milton, I wouldn't have been surprised. So basically I'm not surprised."
The A's selected infielder Kevin Melillo from Triple-A Sacramento to take Bradley's place on the 25-man roster.
Staff writers Chace Bryson and Rick Hurd contributed to this story. Contact Joe Stiglich at firstname.lastname@example.org.