Nomar Garciaparra to Cubs in Blockbuster
No more Nomar. Trade rumors finally turned into reality when the Boston Red Sox sent five-time All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs in a four-team deal Saturday shortly before baseball’s trade deadline. Montreal shortstop Orlando Cabrera, Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez and Minnesota first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz also moved in a trade so big that it caught the attention of big leaguers all over. “I can’t really picture him playing anywhere else,” New York Yankees star Derek Jeter said of Garciaparra. “You think Red Sox, Nomar’s the first name you think of.”
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was gleeful to get him. “When I got out of the car this morning about 7, I think, I was prepared for a real big day for the Cubs or I would be in here hanging my head a little bit today,” he said. “You never go to work thinking he’s going to be available.”
Garciaparra was in the final year of his contract, and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said he wasn’t confident the team would be able to re-sign the two-time AL batting champion. Garciaparra was dressed in his Red Sox jersey, preparing to play at Minnesota, when he heard about the trade.
“My initial reaction was ‘wow,’ ” he said. “If it was in my control, I’d still be wearing a Red Sox uniform, because it’s the place I know, I love. All of those fans, I’ll always remember. But I’m also going to another great place. I’m going to a phenomenal city with great tradition as well, phenomenal fans, great organization.” And he added: “Hopefully, we’ll see them in the World Series.”
The Red Sox wound up with Cabrera and Mientkiewicz, both Gold Glovers.
“I thought there was a flaw on the club that we couldn’t allow to become a fatal flaw, that the defense on this team is not championship caliber,” Epstein said. “In my mind we were not going to win a World Series with our defense the way it was.” The Cubs got Garciaparra and minor league outfielder Matt Murton. Montreal acquired Gonzalez, pitcher Francis Beltran and infielder Brendan Harris and the Twins got minor league pitcher Justin Jones. “It was complicated — so many teams,” Twins GM Terry Ryan said. “I can see why things get bogged down. I don’t know if deadlines are a good thing or not, we were real close.”
Wow. The irony is that Garciapara goes from perhaps the most snakebit franchise in Major League history to the only other team contending for that title.