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Nomar dealt to Cubs; Sox get Cabrera, Mientkiewicz

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox sent star Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs in a blockbuster, four-team deal Saturday that also involved shortstops Orlando Cabrera and Alex Gonzalez.

The Red Sox, in a move designed to strengthen their defense, wound up with gold glovers Cabrera and Minnesota first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, while the Cubs got Garciaparra and minor league outfielder Matt Murton.

"I thought there was a flaw on the club that we couldn't allow to become a fatal flaw, that the defense on this team is not championshiop caliber," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, who called Garciappara one of the team's greatest all-time players. "In my mind we were not going to win a World Series with our defense the way it was."

The additions give the Red Sox "maybe the best infield in the game," Epstein said.

Montreal acquired Gonzalez, pitcher Francis Beltran and infielder Brendan Harris and the Twins got minor league pitcher Justin Jones.

The trade was officially announced shortly after the 4 p.m. EDT deadline for making deals without waivers.

Garciaparra is a five-time All-Star and a two-time AL batting champion, and is in the final year of his contract. "We weren't confident that we'd be able to re-sign Nomar," Epstein said. The trade brought an end to his stellar career in Boston, one which was overshadowed for the past year by trade rumors and an injury.

"I think he will bring a ton to the table and a presence on the field and off," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "You never go to work thinking he's going to be available."

Last winter, after Garciaparra rejected a four-year, $60 million extension, the Red Sox tried furiously to acquire Alex Rodriguez from Texas to play shortstop. Although it would have been Manny Ramirez going to the Rangers, the Red Sox would have then shipped out Garciaparra, possibly to either the Chicago White Sox or Los Angeles.

Instead, Rodriguez went to the New York Yankees -- to play third base -- and Garciaparra stayed and stewed. Confessing that his feelings were hurt, he said he still wanted to finish his career with the Red Sox.

But the good feelings didn't last through spring training. After eight hitless at-bats, he injured his Achilles tendon and missed 57 games with an injury that was supposed to keep him out a week.

Published but unattributed speculation from within the front office that he was taking his time coming back upset Garciaparra anew before all seemed forgotten when he returned to a series of standing ovations on June 9.

"You never forget that the fans here are just amazing," he said then. "I deeply and truly appreciate it. I can't thank them enough."

Garciaparra thanked Boston's fans again on Saturday, but said he was looking forward to the new challenge. "I'm very fortunate to go to another phenomenal organization and playing the game I love," he said.

Garciaparra, 31, sat out Friday night's game against Minnesota because of soreness. He is batting .321 with 5 home runs and 21 RBI in 38 games this season.

Garciaparra's best season was 1998, when he batted .323 with 35 home runs and 122 RBIs.

Cabrera, a former Gold Glove winner, is batting .246 with four home runs and 31 RBIs.

Gonzalez has been injured for much of the season. He's hitting only .222 with three home runs and eight RBIs.

Mientkiewicz is hitting .246 with five homers and 25 RBIs and is known for a good glove, something the Red Sox need at first base. 

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