In a surprising move, the Oakland A's designated for assignment (DFA) OF Milton Bradley. Coming into the season, Bradley was one of the best outfielders on the A's. While he still was, the emergence of rookie Travis Buck and Jack Cust along with the re-emergence of Dan Johnson and the good health of Shannon Stewart with a dash of successful back surgery for Mark Kotsay (there's hope for back pain suffers?) left Bradley, a free agent at season's end, in a position to play at less than full-time levels. According to A's GM Billy Beane, this was the reason Bradley was DFA'd. There was some attidutinal spice added to the public announcement, as there always will be in Bradley's case, too.
I believe the reason to be more complicated. The decision to DFA Bradley and then try to trade him is too illogical on its face to be ignored. Given the A's now have just ten days to trade Bradley until he can opt for free agency and choose to sign with whomever will have him with the A's picking-up the remainder of his $4MM contract, one must examine the decision in this light. Why put your team at a negotiating disadvantage?
What does Oakland gain by putting themselves in an apparent lose-lose situation? First, the team signals it is serious about dealing Bradley. There's going to be no offer including a widely-regarded top prospect. 2nd, and more importantly, the A's are saying, "Here take him cheap. There is nothing nefarious involved. we're not trying to make anyone look like a fool in this transaction."
What the A's need is another team to pay Bradley's remaining salary. Recall the episode in Moneyball where Billy Beane works furiously to free-up money in order to acquire lefty Ricardo Rincon. Without the extra money, that trade wouldn't get completed. The DFA signals to other teams that the A's are willing to deal a good major league hitter for the cap space versus trying to get the cap space and a quality prospect.
Whether other GMs see this and negotiate appropriately is a different question awaiting an answer.