CHICAGO, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The Chicago Cubs acquired Alex Gonzalez from the Toronto Blue Jays Monday for reliever Felix Heredia and a player to be named.
Gonzalez, 28, had the longest tenure of any Blue Jay. He is a steady fielder who has developed increasing power. He will take over for starting shortstop Ricky Gutierrez, who was not offered arbitration by the Cubs.
"He's quicker, he runs better and has power for a shortstop," Cubs general manager Andy McPhail said in comparing Gutierrez and Gonzalez. "He's going to finish his three-year contract at a younger age than Gutierrez would have started it."
Gonzalez batted .253 with 17 homers and 76 RBI last season -- all career highs. He also led all American League shortstops in assists, total chances and double plays.
"Alex Gonzalez is one of the top shortstops in the American League," Cubs manager Don Baylor said. "We'll work on him not trying to pull the ball so much. Wrigley Field is good for home runs but a lot of ground balls also get eaten up."
Gonzalez made news at last year's winter meetings when he signed a four-year, $24 million contract. As one of the few viable options at shortstop, Gonzalez cashed in.
A career .245 hitter over parts of eight seasons, Gonzalez has 83 homers, 350 RBI and 85 stolen bases in 890 career games.
Gonzalez's departure should result in a revamped Blue Jays infield. Toronto picked up third base prospect Eric Hinske on Friday, have promising youngsters Orlando Hudson and Cesar Izturis and gave highly touted Felipe Lopez a chance to get his feet wet.
"The prospects of having Hinske, Lopez and Izturis all involved in the mix and later on down the road Orlando Hudson makes for a pretty interesting spring training," said Toronto manager Buck Martinez.
"We feel like Lopez is ready to step right in and play," Blue Jays new general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "We saved some money but that's not why the deal was made. I think his (Lopez's) time has come."
The 25-year-old Heredia joins his third team in six years. He broke in with Florida in 1996 and was traded to Chicago in 1998.
Heredia was 2-2 with a 6.17 ERA in 48 relief appearances for Chicago in 2000. He got off to a great start but saw his final month short-circuited by injuries, suffering shoulder soreness in mid-August and appendicitis a month later.
Ricciardi said the other player would likely come from Class AA or Class AAA.