With the glory years clearly in the rearview mirror, I will take the next couple of weeks to review the major transactions that lead up to the best period in Philadelphia Phillies history and how it impacts the team today and going forward. You can find my previous three articles here, here and here.
Today’s focus: Dec. 6, 2006, the Phillies traded Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez to the Chicago White Sox for Freddy Garcia.
Background: The Phillies finished the 2006 season just three games out of the wild card, one season after finishing a mere one game out. After a 13th consecutive season missing the playoffs, coming off of four consecutive years of Philadelphia Eagles playoff heartbreak and watching the dreaded New York Mets break the Atlanta Braves’ division title streak instead of them, GM Pat Gillick wanted to make a splash and put the Phillies on the map as a team of reckon. Gillick certainly did so on paper by trading away first round bust Gavin Floyd and their top pitching prospect at the time in Gio Gonzalez to the White Sox for ace Freddy Garcia.
Evaluation for White Sox: Floyd scuffled as a starter in Chicago until 2008 when he emerged as a legitimate force in their rotation. He finished the season 17-4 with a sub-4 ERA and followed with four consecutive seasons with double-digit wins before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013. He signed with the Braves in the offseason.
Gonzalez promptly lead all of the minor leagues in strikeouts in 2007 with the White Sox and was the main piece traded to the Oakland Athletics for Nick Swisher. He became a perennial All-Star with Oakland and later the Washington Nationals. Gonzalez has become one of the best young pitchers in the Major Leagues.
Evaluation for Phillies: Garcia made only 11 starts as a Phillie before landing on the disabled list for the remainder of the season. He went 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA in only 58 innings pitched, while giving up 12 home runs. Ghastly. He was paid $10 million for his one win and became a free agent following the season.
Who Won?: The White Sox in 10 million different ways.
What If They Didn’t Trade for Garcia?: This trade makes waves in a number of ways. The Phillies received a lemon, plain and simple. Garcia was damaged goods, and despite the fact that he regained his arm strength in future years with other teams, he was a total and complete disaster for the Phillies.
The team had given Floyd plenty of opportunities to show he was worth his draft stock (fourth overall immediately prior to Mark Teixeira and a full round before David Wright). He was a classic change-of-scenery candidate, and most were happy to see him succeed in Chicago.
Gonzalez is where it stings. He was a throw-in player in the Jim Thome trade a year earlier and became one of the best overall prospects in all of baseball. Gonzalez became a two-time All-Star, finished third in Cy Young voting in 2012 and is one of the top pitchers in the game.
Let’s truly break down where the Phils would be without this trade. Considering Garcia gave them nothing, Floyd likely would have been in their rotation throughout the 2007 season and possibly beyond, making the imminent Kyle Lohse trade superfluous. Gonzalez’s emergence would have given the Phillies a young 1-2 punch with Cole Hamels that no team outside of possibly the San Francisco Giants could have rivaled at the time.
The subsequent trades for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt may have not been necessary and the team could have saved their prospects for the here and now. There is no telling if the Phillies would have won the 2008 World Series with Gonzalez and Floyd, but they won it without Lee and Halladay. Not to mention, Gonzalez is only 28 years old today and would still be one of the youngest players on the team. Chances are they would still have Carlos Carrasco, Kyle Drabek and Anthony Gose on their roster, giving the current team a younger face than it currently has and a tremendously different outlook.
Plainly stated, this trade was a disaster and the Phillies are still feeling the ripple effects today.
What’s Next? Brad Lidge.