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Phils acquire Garcia from White Sox

Phils acquire Garcia from White Sox

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Phillies and White Sox dusted off the podium on Day 3 of baseball's Winter Meetings, with Philadelphia emerging with a huge boost to its starting rotation.

When the dust completely clears some time between Thursday and Opening Day, the Phillies likely will have a bullpen piece as well -- but that's part two to be announced later.

The first part has the Phillies adding Freddy Garcia from the White Sox for prospects Gavin Floyd and a player to be named after the Rule 5 Draft. That player is Double-A lefty Gio Gonzalez, who arrived in Philadelphia in last year's trade that netted Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome.

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A bad cold and a bout of laryngitis couldn't stop general manager Pat Gillick from bolstering the team's starting rotation. His No. 2 man, assistant GM, scouting and player development Mike Arbuckle, announced the deal on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. ET, roughly two hours after it was completed.

"We got better," manager Charlie Manuel said, beaming. "I'd say we picked up an ace. [Gillick] pulled one out of the hat."

"He was on our short list," Arbuckle said.

Garcia, 30, is 116-71 in an eight-year career with Seattle and the White Sox. He began his professional career in the Astros organization and went to Seattle as part of a July 31, 1998, trade that brought Randy Johnson to Houston.

The battle-tested veteran has won six of his nine postseason starts, and he gives the Phillies another starter who will slot near the top of the rotation. From a sheer numbers perspective, he gives Philadelphia six hurlers, which allows the Phils to trade veteran righty Jon Lieber for bullpen help.

Gillick is familiar with Garcia from his time in Seattle, as is Jamie Moyer, while Rowand knows him from Chicago.

More importantly, the Phillies added a key pitcher at a time when pitching is at an absolute premium. Earlier on Wednesday, Ted Lilly agreed to a four-year, $40 million dollar deal with the Cubs. Garcia will earn $10 million next season in the final year of his contract. He has logged 200-plus innings in seven straight seasons and went 17-9 with a 4.53 ERA in 2006.

Keeping Rowand was also huge for the Phillies, allowing them to focus on fixing the bullpen, and not on potentially replacing Rowand. An earlier version of the deal had the Phillies sending Rowand and reliever Ryan Madson for Garcia.

Now, Lieber can be dangled, and he has drawn interest from Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas, all of whom are flush with relievers. The Phillies had discussed dealing Lieber to Milwaukee for a package that included Kevin Mench and reliever Derrick Turnbow, but now they can focus on possibly getting two relievers.

"We discussed a lot of scenarios over the past few days," Arbuckle said. "There was a lot of presumption [that Rowand had to be in the deal]. That was never a big element about this. What was out there was not accurate. What's important now is that we have a lot of options now. I think everyone sees what the pitching market is. And with an extra starter, we can do some things."

Gonzalez, 21, pitched last season at Double-A Reading, going 7-12 with a 4.66 ERA in 27 starts. He was selected 38th overall by the White Sox in the 2004 draft.

This ends what has been a frustrating ride for the 24-year-old Floyd, who was regarded as one of the jewels of the organization since being drafted fourth overall in 2001. He has sputtered for two years in the Minors and Majors. In 11 starts this season, he posted a 7.29, and was inconsistent in the Arizona Fall League.

"We were reluctant to give him up, because I think Gavin's going to be a little bit of a late bloomer," Arbuckle said. "I compared him numerous times to the Chris Carpenters, who was slow to come around, but when he did, became a good big-league pitcher. I still think that's going to happen."

In the meantime, they'll run out what looks to be arguably the deepest starting rotation in the National League, perhaps equal to Los Angeles' quintet of Jason Schmidt, Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Randy Wolf and Chad Billingsley.

"When you look at this rotation from a depth standpoint, it's a very good rotation," Arbuckle said. "When you have good pitching, you're going to compete every day. Garcia's been there and has pitched when the game is on the line. He's shown that he has the ability to do that and handle it. He'll fit very nicely in our rotation."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }
{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }