Tigers trade Gonzalez for Garcia

Dec. 28, 1998
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DETROIT, Dec. 28 -- The Detroit Tigers Monday signed free agent outfielder Gregg Jefferies and acquired outfielder Karim Garcia from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Luis Gonzalez and cash considerations. Jefferies was signed to a two-year deal with a club option for a third season at undisclosed financial terms. He made $6 million last season with the Philadelphia Phillies and Anaheim Angels. The swap of Gonzalez for Garcia is an exchange of left-handed hitting outfielders. Gonzalez is the more established player and the 23-year-old Garcia is eight years younger. The 31-year-old Jefferies spent the majority of last season in left field for the Phillies and Angels. He apparently will replace Gonzalez, who was Detroit's regular left fielder. Garcia, 23, could push for playing time in an outfield that also includes speedster Brian Hunter and slugger Bobby Higginson. In 555 at-bats in 144 games between his two stops last season, Jefferies hit .301 with nine home runs and 58 RBI, adding 28 doubles and 12 stolen bases. He struck out just 32 times, once every 18.3 plate appearances, ranking second to San Diego's Tony Gwynn in that category. In 10 full major-league seasons, Jefferies has a .292 average with 118 homers and 631 RBI. He also has played for the New York Mets, Kansas City and St. Louis. The Angels decided not to pick up his $5 million option for the 1999 season. Garcia batted .222 with nine homers and 43 RBI in 113 games with the Diamondbacks.

He also spent time at the team's Triple-A Tucson affiliate, hitting 10 homers and driving in 27 runs while batting .311 in just 27 games. Gonzalez provides another experienced bat in the middle of Arizona's revamped lineup. Bernard Gilkey was acquired during the season from the New York Mets and Steve Finley was signed as a free agent away from San Diego on December 7 to replace the departed Devon White in center field. For his career, Gonzalez, 31, is a .268 hitter with 107 homers and 550 RBI in 1,122 games for the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Detroit. He hit .267 with a career-high 23 homers and 71 RBI in 154 games for the Tigers last season.

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