06/27/2004 10:50 PM ET
Emotional Garcia departs Seattle
Mariners trade right-hander to Chicago
By Jim Street / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- After six years and 80 victories with the Mariners, an emotional Freddy Garcia left the building Sunday afternoon, a little shaken and with moistened eyes.
|Freddy Garcia said on Sunday that he would consider re-signing with the Mariners. (John Froschauer/AP)
"I am really, really sad," he said.
"It's tough, it's always hard to lose a player, especially a guy who's been as important to our success as Freddy's been," catcher Dan Wilson said. "He's the last guy here from the three guys who came over in the Randy Johnson trade, so it's kind of strange to think that way too. It's tough on everybody. We're sad to see Freddy go and we wish him all the best."
The Mariners were in the final stages of their 42nd loss of the season Sunday at Safeco Field when they and the White Sox finalized a trade that sends Garcia and catcher Ben Davis to Chicago for catcher Miguel Olivo and two minor league players -- outfielder Jeremy Reed and shortstop Mike Morse.
Garcia, who will join the White Sox in Minnesota later this week, has a 4-7 record and 3.20 ERA in 15 starts. He allowed three or fewer runs in 10 of the starts and has the sixth-lowest ERA in the American League.
"Freddy's pitched extremely well for us this year," Wilson said. "He's been a hard-luck pitcher, he's given us a lot of innings and kept us in games. It's been a pleasure to play with Freddy."
As players quietly dressed after yet another loss, keeping them 12 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the AL West, there were more questions about Garcia's departure than the Interleague Play series finale against the Padres.
"I love Freddy, he's been a great teammate and I've loved playing with him," second baseman Bret Boone said. "I'm sad to see him go. Other than that I don't really have anything to say."
Rumors of a pending trade involving the franchise's all-time winningest right-handed pitcher have been heard for nearly three weeks. The Yankees, Mets and White Sox reportedly were the teams most interested in acquiring his services for the final half of the season.
"There's always speculation about it, Freddy's one of the best pitchers in the American League," outfielder Randy Winn said. "If he was available I'm sure a lot of teams were lining up to get him. The guy throws 200 innings every year, he's a tough competitor, never wants to come out of the game and has great stuff.
"But it's the nature of the business. He signed a one-year deal, so the writing was kind of on the wall if your team doesn't get off to a fast start."
The Mariners got off to a slow start and have been in last place in the AL West for practically the entire season. Rather than risk losing Garcia to free agency at the end of the season and getting nothing return -- as the case was with shortstop Alex Rodriguez after the 2000 season -- the Mariners decided to get some compensation.
The organization is loaded with young pitching talent. And it's time to show off some of that talent.
Perhaps the young pitchers will follow in Garcia's massive footprints and become a big-game pitcher, which he was during his best seasons in Seattle.
"One of the things that sets Freddy apart is his ability to be a big-game pitcher," Wilson said. "He's pitched in the playoffs, in big games in New York for us and won some big game at a real young age. He can turn it on when he has to and he's been a big part of our success here."
Of those 80 wins, two came in the AL Championship Series against the Yankees, another in the Division Series against the Indians and he added a win in the 2001 All-Star Game played at Safeco Field.
"We all love Fred and we know Fred's a big-time pitcher and a coveted guy out there," manager Bob Melvin said. "Who knows what happens with Freddy at the end of the year? He's a free agent and who knows, he could possibly come back here.
"Believe me, we wish Freddy the best, everybody in here loves Freddy. He's done a lot for this team, a lot for this organization. We've seen the way he's pitched this year, a two-time All-Star, a lot of credentials. So we definitely wish Freddy the best."
Garcia mentioned at the postgame press conference that he would love to return to the Mariners, perhaps as early as next season.
But his market value might put him in untouchable territory. The Mariners must improve the worst offense in the American League and that's where most of the money saved during offseason moves will be spent.
He might want to come back, but don't count on it.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.