Let’s transport back one year to the date, the Frisco Roughriders are sitting in Springfield, MO waiting for the rain to pass and all the sudden an ESPN flash comes across the screen to let us know Cliff Lee has been acquired by the Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak and ‘minor leaguers.’ Those minor leaguers turned out to be teammates of mine for 4+ years and more importantly friends. Although you are happy that they get a better opportunity in a different organization with a fresh start, you are sad to see them go as well. One of those people in that Cliff Lee trade was my roommate for many years both in season and during spring training and my best friend in the organization. Hearing about him leaving was extremely bittersweet for me, on one hand I knew I was going to lose a good friend but in the process I knew what an incredible opportunity this was for him. It was like watching your best friend, whom you played with all the time as a kid pack up and move away for good. During the Lee deal and the Cantu deal we slowly watched our teammates pack up and leave one by one heading off to different pastures, and you always think the opportunities they are getting and if they are going to be in better situations, and as a player you always kind of wonder what it would like to be traded.
When I woke up the morning of my fateful day, I had an ESPN update message that the Rangers made a trade for Cristian Guzman, and I immediately had a bad feeling in my gut that I was somehow involved in it. Still till this day I don’t know why I had that feeling, but I just did. I was on the way to eat breakfast with my girlfriend when I got the text message, and I immediately told her to re-route the car and head to the field. I got to the field and my agent called me and told me I needed to be by my phone in the next fifteen minutes because he had some news and right then I knew what was going on. I jumped on twitter immediately, and saw the confirmation from the Texas Rangers beat writers that I was heading to the Washington Nationals, but there was a problem there was also another player to be named. I sat at the field and waited around the clubhouse, slowly packing my stuff as my teammates filtered waiting to hear the “official word.” After a few hours manager Steve Buechele called Tanner Roark and I into his office where we were on a conference call with player development director Scott Servais who proceeded to tell us what we already knew. After all the goodbyes from the teammates, and subsequent packing of the locker it was time to head out. Tanner and I stayed around that night in Frisco and watched a little bit of the game, and said goodbye to the “frequent fans” that always cheered us on, it was a very bittersweet moment for us. We had to wait until the next morning to get our travel itinerary from the Nationals as to where we were to report. The arrival in Harrisburg and getting ready to meet your new teammates is a very exciting, and very eerie feeling because not only did we have teammates and in the rangers organization, but they were guys that we have come up with every step of the way and they have become good friends to both Tanner and I. When we pulled up to the stadium, the starting catcher hit a walk-off HR for the win so everyone was in a great mood when we got the clubhouse. Everyone was really nice and welcoming when we got to the clubhouse and was asking us different questions about being traded, and what it felt like and it seemed that we were welcomed with open arms right away.
As soon as we got to Harrisburg, everyone was asking if we had places to live and the team gave us a few night stay in a local hotel to try and get things situated and get our living situations together, once our couple of nights in the hotel were done we were responsible for subsequent days in the hotel. We wound up finding a place at a local extended stay that we stayed at for about six weeks. The move was very shocking, as soon as I found out I was traded I immediately called my parents to let them know the news and they were really excited for me, I also called my extended family to let them know about the news and overall people were genuinely excited for me because they knew how great the opportunity was for me. It’s a very odd feeling to be traded, on one hand you think that you are expendable to one team but on the other hand there is a team out there that picked you from all the minor leaguers in the organization so you feel special to your new team it’s almost conflicting. I can be totally honest and say I never thought I was going to be traded, so throughout the year it did not affect me. Usually the minor leaguers are the throw ins on the trade so we don’t know anything until it happens, scouts are at every game and so you just kind of ignore them and don’t think much about it.
You definitely feel a little pressure when you arrive to your new team, because you are eager to prove to them that they got a good player and made the right decision by getting you but you also have to stay within yourself and play the way you were because that’s why they traded for you in the first place. You get adjusted fairly quickly to your new team, and I found it was extremely easy to make friends with the guys in the Nats organization and it continually has been. Overall it’s a whirlwind of an experience with a ton of emotions flying everywhere, but you find out what you are made of trying to keep those emotions in check. Because after all no matter what team you are with, you there are 29 other teams constantly watching you and it is the goal to get to the big leagues with someone and any coach will tell you that.
I hope this gives you a little insight in the players world on what it’s like to be traded.