White Sox Cash In Garcia For Two Young Arms

In an offseason featuring teams paying dearly for durable pitching, White Sox general manager Ken Williams shipped righthander Freddy Garcia–who has logged 200 innings in seven of his eight big league seasons–to the Phillies in order to make room in the Chicago rotation for either Brandon McCarthy or Charlie Haeger. In return the White Sox get a pair of minor league arms in righthander Gavin Floyd and lefthander Gio Gonzalez, who was officially a player to be named until the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft.

Both names should be familiar to Baseball America readers, as both were first-round picks out of high school. The Phillies drafted Floyd fourth overall in 2001 out of Mount St. Joseph High in Baltimore and he excelled in both low and high Class A in 2002 and 2003, going 11-10, 2.77 and 7-8, 3.00. He continued to thrive at Double-A Reading to start 2004 and would post a 3.49 ERA in six appearances for the Phillies that September.

Floyd opened 2005 in the big leagues but struggled with his consistency and role, as he was not mentally prepared for bullpen work. Manager Larry Bowa quickly lost confidence in him after Floyd surrendered eight and then five runs in successive bullpen stints. Floyd was a premium pick on the strength of his lively 94 mph fastball and hard, 12-to-6 curveball, but seemed to lack conviction in the pitches when he struggled, causing both to lose bite. He has split 2005 and 2006 between Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia, struggling mightily in the majors performing decently in the minors. The Phillies had lost patience in Floyd, making him a perfect change-of-scenery candidate.

Gonzalez is making his second tour of duty with the White Sox organization. He was the club’s supplemental first-round pick in 2004 out of Monsignor Pace High in Miami before being traded to the Phillies last offseason in a deal for Jim Thome. The 5-foot-11 lefty generates easy velocity–occasionally reaching 93-94 mph–and spins a hard curveball as his out pitch. He also mixes in a quality changeup.

Gonzalez had breezed through the minors prior to 2006, when he stumbled to 7-12, 4.66 at Double-A Reading. He did however finish second in the league with 166 strikeouts, but balanced than by amassing a league-high 81 walks.

The Phillies landed one of baseball’s more durable pitchers in Garcia, who was signed by the Astros out of Venezuela in 1993 then traded to the Mariners (with Randy Johnson going the other way) in 1999. The Mariners shipped him to the White Sox in 2004 for a package highlighted by center fielder Jeremy Reed.

Garcia’s best work came as one of Seattle’s top pitchers on its 116-win team of 2001. That season Garcia set career bests for wins and ERA (a figure that also led the league) by going 18-6, 3.05. For his career, Garcia is 116-71, 4.01 and has never posted a higher ERA than the 4.53 he logged last year.

Garcia is owed $10 million for 2007, after which he can become a free agent. For the Phillies the acquisition allows them to make a shorter commitment to Garcia than they could find on the free agent market, but at a higher talent cost than the Mets or Padres surrendered in locking up Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux for deals roughly equivalent to Garcia’s.

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