Padres swing a deal for Edmonds
Center-field spot vacated by Cameron filled by Cards veteran
SAN DIEGO -- There certainly was no shortage of factors that led Jim Edmonds to waive his no-trade clause and decide to accept a trade from St. Louis to San Diego on Saturday.
Of the issues the 37-year-old kicked around, the pull of playing in Southern California, where he grew up, spent seven seasons playing for the Angels and still makes his offseason home, was surely a powerful one.
As was the opportunity for Edmonds to play on an every-day basis for a Padres team that needed a center fielder badly. It was a chance for Edmonds to show his body, ravaged by injuries the last two years, still has miles on it, and productive ones at that.
All, of course, make perfect sense.
What wasn't so evident, not until Saturday when the trade between the Cardinals and Padres was officially announced, was Edmonds' apparent fondness of the playing surface he figures to cover this season at PETCO Park.
That's right. Edmonds digs the grass.
"I think that PETCO Park has one of the best surfaces in baseball," Edmonds said from his home in Irvine. "I would say it's in the top three out of 30 teams. It's flat, firm and grassy, and even. ... I just love playing there."
The Padres hope that Edmonds' level of comfort with PETCO Park translates into great success for a player who hasn't played in more than 120 games in each of the past two seasons because of injuries that led the Cardinals to question whether he could play full-time.
That's another reason why Edmonds opted to accept a trade to San Diego: pride.
Edmonds, through his agent, Paul Cohen, approached the Cardinals last month to gauge just how he would be used in 2008, this coming off a season where the left-hander hit .252 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs in 117 games, as he recovered slowly from shoulder and toe surgery.
"They couldn't guarantee me how much I was going to play," said Edmonds, who played eight seasons with the Cardinals. "So we talked to them about moving me. They couldn't give me an answer if I was going to be a platoon player or not."
Enter the Padres, who, according to general manager Kevin Towers, have had some discussions with the Cardinals about Edmonds since the end of the season. At one point, the talks involved more players, rumored to be Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes.
The two sides talked again at the Winter Meetings nearly two weeks ago in Nashville, Tenn., although the wheels on this deal -- which saw the Padres send Minor League third baseman David Freese to the Cardinals for Edmonds and cash considerations -- really came together on Friday.
After watching free agent outfielders Milton Bradley and Kosuke Fukudome sign elsewhere, the Padres wanted to retain free agent Mike Cameron, though the two sides couldn't come to a deal, with money and not years of the deal (two years) being the sticking point.
Cameron, according to a baseball source, wanted a two-year deal for about $22 million. But the Padres deemed that too much for a player who was going to miss the first 25 games of the year -- he was suspended for a positive test for banned substances -- and would be 35 next month. So both sides agreed to move on.
Enter Edmonds, though the sides had to agree upon a prospect and, this is important, how much cash the Cardinals were going to throw in to help cover Edmonds salary of $8 million. Towers would not disclose the amount, though it's believed to be $2 million.
"When healthy, this guy is a very productive player," Towers said. "We certainly did our due diligence and talked to people who knew him. He said this is the best shape he's been in his career. He wants to play in 150-160 games."
The Padres will gladly take that, and, might need that, knowing that there's stability in center field as right fielder Brian Giles continues to rehab his right knee after having micro-fracture surgery in October.
There's also an unsettled situation in left field, where Scott Hairston is pegged as the starter unless the Padres signs left-handed-hitting free agent Geoff Jenkins for a platoon situation.
"We're certainly a lot better off today than we were yesterday," Towers said of Edmonds, an eight-time Gold Glove winner. "Our biggest concern was having a solid defensive player in center field and this is a guy who can hit in the middle of the lineup.
"This was big for us. It was a very thin market for free agents. There were only a couple trade options out there. This is one we've had our eye on since the end of the season."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.