Rangers trade Juan Gonzalez to Tigers in nine-player deal

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The Independent Online

The Puerto Rican baseball star Juan Gonzalez, the two-time American League MVP, was traded from the Texas Rangers to the Detroit Tigers in a nine-player deal.

The Puerto Rican baseball star Juan Gonzalez, the two-time American League MVP, was traded from the Texas Rangers to the Detroit Tigers in a nine-player deal.

Going with Gonzalez to Detroit on Tuesday were pitcher Danny Patterson and catcher Gregg Zaun.

The Rangers received pitchers Justin Thompson, Alan Webb and Francisco Cordero, outfielder Gabe Kapler, catcher Bill Haselman and infielder Frank Catalanotto.

The Tigers get "a franchise player and future Hall of Famer" in Gonzalez, Detroit general manager Randy Smith said.

Gonzalez, 30, told Puerto Rico's TV station Teleonce that he was disappointed: "The trade hurts my feelings because it comes after 13 consecutive years with one organization, giving them my best."

But he thanked the Rangers for "giving me the opportunity to be a professional," and said of his future, "Changes are positive, now I have to give my best."

Gonzalez, the American League MVP in 1996 and 1998, cautioned that, "I can't say I'm going to sign with Detroit, because I still have a year left (in my contract)."

The Texas general manager, Doug Melvin, said discussions had "heated up over the last couple of days. We had talked about it at length. Randy Smith has been on vacation in Hawaii, so it was a long-distance call trying to get the deal done."

The Tigers have until Saturday to exercise a $7.5m option on him for next year, and the sides spoke shortly after the trade was made.

Gonzalez is eligible for free agency after the 2000 season.

The All-Star outfielder hit .326 with 39 home runs and 128 RBIs last year. He led the Rangers to the AL West titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999, yet all three seasons ended in disappointment as each time they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual World Series champion New York Yankees.

Detroit went 69-92 last season and finished third in the AL Central, 27 1/2 games behind Cleveland.

The Tigers hope for a fresh start next season when they move into new Comerica Park under newly hired manager, Phil Garner.

"Over the last few years, we have worked hard to develop a farm system with a high talent level and strong depth," Smith said, without which "we could not have made today's deal."

In 11 seasons with Texas, Gonzalez batted .294 with 340 home runs and 1,075 RBIs. He batted .314 with 47 home runs and 144 RBIs in 1996 as Texas won its first division title, and batted .318 with 45 homers and 157 RBIs in 1998.

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