SAN DIEGO -- Jim Edmonds is returning to Southern California
after eight seasons in the Midwest, eager to prove he's healthy and
still an everyday player.
He'll get that chance starting March 31 when he takes his
position in Petco Park's spacious center field.
The San Diego Padres obtained the 37-year-old Edmonds and $2
million on Saturday from the Cardinals in exchange for minor league
third baseman David Freese, who grew up in a St. Louis suburb.
"I'm kind of shocked but excited because I get to be in
Southern California next to my family and play for a contending
team in a beautiful ballpark," Edmonds said during a conference
call from his offseason home in Irvine.
Although the Padres had targeted Edmonds since the end of the
season, the deal came about quickly after the agent for Mike Cameron broke off talks on Friday.
"It just happened to be a perfect fit," Edmonds said.
"We're certainly a lot better off today than we were
yesterday," said Padres general manager Kevin Towers, who finally
landed an outfielder after being spurned by three others in less
than a week. "Our biggest concern was having a solid defender in
center field. Jimmy's one of the better ones in the game, a Gold
Glover, and should be able to cover the gaps."
Edmonds grew up in Diamond Bar in Los Angeles County and was
drafted by the Angels in 1988. He played for the Angels from late
in the 1993 season until being traded to St. Louis just before the
After the Cardinals won the 2006 World Series, the four-time
All-Star had operations on his right shoulder and left toe. He
batted just .222 in April and finished batting .252 with 12 homers
and 53 RBIs -- his lowest totals since 1999 with the Angels.
An eight-time Gold Glove winner, Edmonds said he feels "100
percent for the first time in a while. This is a great opportunity
to go out every day and show that I'm still a high-caliber major
Towers said he spoke with several people about Edmonds,
including Walt Jocketty, who was fired as Cardinals GM after the
"Certainly there are no guarantees, but we felt it was a risk
worth taking," Towers said. "He's certainly done his damage
against us over the years in postseason play."
Edmonds said he's not concerned with the size of Petco Park's
outfield, adding that he thinks it has one of the best surfaces in
"I just love playing there and think it's going to be a great
opportunity for me," said Edmonds, who helped the Cardinals
eliminate the Padres in the first round of the playoffs in 2005 and
Edmonds said he and his agent approached the Cardinals' front
office after hearing talk that he'd be moved to right field or have
reduced playing time in center.
"Basically, the feedback wasn't so great, and they couldn't
guarantee anything," he said. "We just decided maybe it was time
for me to move on."
Towers said the Cardinals let it be known that if they got the
prospect they wanted, they'd help out with cash to help offset
Edmonds' $8 million salary in 2008, the final year of his contract.
"Jim provided Cardinals fans with some of the most memorable
moments in Cardinals history during his career in St. Louis,"
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. "He will
be remembered not only for his all-around great play, but also his
many contributions to the St. Louis community."
Edmonds appeared in the postseason six times with the Cardinals,
including two World Series.
He recently opened a restaurant about a mile from Busch Stadium.
"It's just a job and friendships will be forever," Edmonds
said about leaving St. Louis. "I can't say enough about my
opportunity in St. Louis. It's been the best section of my
He said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa left a farewell message
on his phone.
Towers said talks to bring back Cameron fell apart over money.
Unlike Cameron, Edmonds will be available in April. Cameron is
suspended for the first 25 games of 2008 after testing positive a
second time for a banned stimulant.
Plus, the Padres lost out in the bidding for Japanese outfielder
Kosuke Fukudome, who signed with the Chicago Cubs.
Edmonds "is a guy that can change a game, not only offensively
but defensively," said right fielder Brian Giles. "Those players
are hard to come by. I definitely think Jimmy will be able to help
Giles had microfracture surgery in October but said he should be
ready by opening day.
the 24-year-old Freese batted .302 with 17 homers and 96 RBIs
with Single-A Lake Elsinore. He graduated from Lafayette High in
Wildwood, just outside of St. Louis.