As the trading deadline approached last Saturday afternoon, Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz was chatting with reporters in the Minnesota clubhouse at the Metrodome when bench coach Steve Liddle interrupted and quickly ushered Mientkiewicz into manager Ron Gardenhire's office. About an hour later Mientkiewicz stood outside the visitors' clubhouse wearing Red Sox gear. "This hasn't sunk in yet," said Mientkiewicz, who had just been traded to Boston as a part of a blockbuster four-team deal that sent shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs. "All I know is I'll be burning up a lot of cellphone minutes in the next few weeks."
Although Diamondbacks ace Randy Johnson went untraded and remained in Arizona, a flurry of 11th-hour deals—eight trades were made within an hour of Saturday's 4 p.m. ET deadline—resulted in 49 players being moved on Friday and Saturday, including several between contending teams. Here are the big winners and losers.
By adding Garciaparra, a five-time All-Star, a two-time batting champion and a career .323 hitter, Chicago now has a lineup that's a worthy complement to its vaunted starting rotation. Since returning to the Red Sox on June 9 from a right Achilles injury, Garciaparra was quietly having a solid season, hitting .321 with 21 RBIs in 38 games. But he had become disgruntled in Boston after the Red Sox attempted to trade him and acquire Alex Rodriguez last winter, and he should benefit from a change in scenery. This season Cubs shortstops ranked last in the majors in hitting (.221) and runs scored (32). Acquiring Garciaparra without having to deal away starter Matt Clement was a coup for G.M. Jim Hendry.
They are the biggest winners after pulling off a six-player trade with the Dodgers. Florida sent righthander Brad Penny, first baseman Hee Seop Choi and minor league lefthander Bill Murphy to Los Angeles to acquire one of baseball's best setup men in righthander Guillermo Mota (2.14 ERA in 63 innings). The Marlins also landed catcher Paul Lo Duca (.301, 10 homers, 49 RBIs with the Dodgers) and rightfielder Juan Encarnacion, which will allow Miguel Cabrera (seven errors through Sunday) to move from rightfield to leftfield, where the young All-Star is far more comfortable.
At week's end they were 8� games out of a playoff spot, but by adding righthanders Kris Benson from the Pirates and Victor Zambrano from the Devil Rays, New York is remaking itself for a playoff run next season. Benson is eligible for free agency this fall but says he's open to signing a long-term deal with the Mets. New York's cost was high in both deals—they dealt prized pitching prospects Matt Peterson (to the Pirates) and Scott Kazmir (to the Devil Rays)—but under the wizardry of pitching coach Rick Peterson, Benson and Zambrano could thrive.
Despite having the second-best record in the National League, L.A. traded away their clubhouse leader ( Lo Duca), their second-best reliever (Mora) and an every-day outfielder (Encarnacion) for a middle-of-the-rotation starter (Penny) and a strikeout-prone, unproven first baseman ( Choi). First-year G.M. Paul DePodesta hoped to use the players obtained in the Florida deal to get Randy Johnson and centerfielder Steve Finley from the Diamondbacks, but DePodesta succeeded only in acquiring Finley.
The Dodgers traded Lo Duca thinking they had a strong chance of acquiring catcher Charles Johnson from the Rockies, but Johnson vetoed the trade. With Brent Mayne, a .255 hitter, behind the plate, L.A. will miss not only Lo Duca's strong clubhouse presence but also his .301 average. The Dodgers' bullpen, best in the NL (2.93 ERA through Sunday), is severely weakened with Mota's departure. The consequences were felt immediately: on Saturday the L.A. bullpen blew an eighth-inning lead for the first time this season after giving up two runs to the Padres in a 3-2 loss.
"Is this a risky move? It is," says DePodesta. "But in order to achieve something special, you have to step out and do something bold."