Daniels looks back at 2006 Gonzalez-Eaton trade

Daniels looks back at 2006 Gonzalez-Eaton trade

ARLINGTON -- Because of the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day has become synonymous for doing things over and over again. For a Major League general manager, that can be a wonderful thing.

Just about every general manager has made a trade or signed a free agent that he regrets. For Rangers GM Jon Daniels, he learned a valuable lesson from one of his first trades.

That was on Jan. 6, 2006, when Daniels traded first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Chris Young and outfielder Terrmel Sledge for veteran pitchers Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka, and Minor League catcher Billy Killian.

At the time, Young and Gonzalez were just getting started on their Major League careers, while Eaton was eligible for free agency after the 2006 season. But the Rangers thought he could give an immediate boost to a contending team. The bottom line is that Texas gave away Gonzalez and Young for immediate help for a team that wasn't close to being a contender, and the club would begin a history-making rebuilding program 18 months later.

The lesson: Make sure a deal aligns with your club's status -- right at that moment.

"The first trade, the first major trade," Daniels said. "Talking about the deal with the Padres, it didn't line up [with] where the club was. It wasn't part of a long-term deal. We weren't ready, competitively, to make that trade.

"We weren't one piece away, and it's easy to say in hindsight, but Adrian's value would have been more a year later. He wasn't 'Adrian Gonzalez, Superstar,' at the time. He was a good prospect. He wasn't an elite prospect, he was a good prospect. But it wasn't time to be moving those guys."

"It didn't line up with what we were doing. He became one of the best young players in the game; that was a credit to him and the Padres. He took a huge step after the deal. But even if he hadn't taken that step, we weren't ready for a one-year guy and we weren't all-in."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.