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No more Nomar

Red Sox ship Garciaparra to Cubs in blockbuster four-team deadline deal

Updated: Saturday July 31, 2004 9:06PM
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  Nomar Garciaparra
In the last year of a contract, Nomar Garciaparra missed the first 57 games of the season with an injured Achilles' tendon.
AP

BOSTON (AP) -- 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."

Steve Finley, Esteban Loaiza and Orlando Cabrera also switched teams in the eight trades that came less than an hour before the 4 p.m. EDT limit for making deals without waivers.

Randy Johnson, however, remained with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The New York Yankees desperately wanted him, and instead wound up trading Jose Contreras to the Chicago White Sox for Loaiza in a swap of starting pitchers.

With more than 20 teams still in the playoff hunt, a lot of clubs were eager for action. AL West-leading Texas nearly got Larry Walker -- the Colorado slugger turned down a trade -- but those old October heartbreakers, the Red Sox and Cubs, got busy.

Garciaparra was already wearing his Boston jersey when manager Terry Francona called a team meeting before the game at Minnesota. Then, the news spread inside the clubhouse: The five-time All-Star shortstop and two-time AL batting champion was headed to the Cubs.

"My initial reaction was 'wow,"' Garciaparra 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."

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was ecstatic to get Garciaparra, in the last year of his contract and the subject of trade rumors all year.

"I think he will bring a ton to the table and a presence on the field and off," Hendry said. "You never go to work thinking he's going to be available."

Garciaparra, 31, is batting .321 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 38 games this season. He missed the first 57 games of the season with an injured Achilles' tendon.

The Red Sox wound up with Cabrera, Montreal's Gold Glove shortstop, and Minnesota first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, while the Cubs got Garciaparra and minor league outfielder Matt Murton.

"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," Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said. "In my mind we were not going to win a World Series with our defense the way it was."

Montreal acquired Cubs shortstop Alex 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."

Cabrera is batting .246 with four home runs and 31 RBIs. The Expos' future is uncertain, and they've often been forced to trade their best players for young, inexpensive talent.

"Just the fact that I didn't sign back with the team, you can tell from there that I don't like the situation," Cabrera said.

"I'm really excited. I'm going to a contending team. They're fighting for the wild card right now," he said. "Obviously, I have to fill some big shoes with Nomar."

Mientkiewicz is hitting .246 with five homers and 25 RBIs. A crowded roster made him expendable for the AL Central leaders.

Mientkiewicz was in his Twins' gear at the Metrodome several hours before gametime, talking to reporters, when bench coach Steve Liddle interrupted the session and took him away.

A little later, Mientkiewicz was dressed in a Red Sox uniform, getting ready to start against the Twins. He got a rousing ovation from his old fans when he was introduced, and his picture on the scoreboard already had him in a Boston hat and jersey.

"It's a little awkward right now, but I think it's better for everyone," he said. "The situation over there was a rough one. They gave me an opportunity in the big leagues, and what the Twins are all about is they give the young guys chances."

Johnson stayed put despite drawing interest from several teams. The five-time Cy Young winner had a no-trade clause in his contract.

"I wasn't shocked one way or the other. I didn't say I wanted to leave," he said before Arizona played at Colorado.

"Nobody came to me about anything. No one has ever come to me. Nothing ever transpired. Nothing, if it was the Angels, nothing ever transpired with the Angels," he said. "And I never vetoed any trade."

The NL West-leading Dodgers were active, making three trades a day after completing a six-player deal with Florida.

After Finley agreed to accept a deal to Los Angeles, the Diamondbacks traded the four-time Gold Glove center fielder with catcher Brent Mayne. (Full story) The 39-year-old Finley hit .274 with 23 home runs and 48 RBIs for Arizona.

"I want to thank the Diamondbacks for 5 1/2 years, probably the best 51/2 years of my playing career," Finley said. "We were successful and won a World Series. I'm thankful they've given me an opportunity to possibly win another ring."

The Dodgers sent minor league catcher Koyie Hill, outfielder Reggie Abercrombie and left-hander Bill Murphy to Arizona. The Dodgers acquired Murphy on Friday in a trade with the Florida Marlins.

Los Angeles then traded center fielder Dave Roberts to Boston for minor league outfielder Henri Stanley. Earlier, the Dodgers sent left-hander reliever Tom Martin to Atlanta for minor league lefty Matt Merricks in a trade between NL division leaders. (Full story)

After getting shut out on Johnson, the AL East-leading Yankees swapped the inconsistent Contreras and $3 million for Loaiza, a 21-game winner last season. (Full story)

Loaiza is 9-5 with a 4.86 ERA in 21 starts this year and made his second straight All-Star appearance. He is already signed for next season.

Contreras is 8-5 with a 5.64 ERA in 18 games this season. The top pitcher in Cuba when he defected, his up-and-down tendencies perplexed and frustrated the Yankees for two years.

"This one gained steam rather quickly. This deal started probably about 10:30 or 11 o'clock," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said.

"The deal was done, but the paperwork didn't go through until 3:59," he said. "That's when the fax went through -- and I have proof of that."

In other deadline deals:

• The pitching-thin Texas Rangers acquired veteran right-hander Scott Erickson from the Mets for a player to be named later. (Full story)

• The world champion Florida Marlins continued to strengthen their pitching staff Saturday, acquiring starter Ismael Valdez from the San Diego Padres and reliever Rudy Seanez from the Kansas City Royals. (Full story.)

Starting late Saturday afternoon, teams can still make trades, but it becomes a more tricky process. Players must pass through waivers -- meaning any other club can claim them -- before a deal.

Teams have until Aug. 31 to acquire players in order for them to be eligible for the postseason.

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