|Randy Winn knows what it’s like to walk in Chris Carpenter’s shoes||03.09.12 at 4:03 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — On one end of the Red Sox clubhouse sat Chris Carpenter, the hard-throwing reliever whom the Sox acquired from the Cubs as compensation for the departure of former GM Theo Epstein. In the middle of the clubhouse stood one of the few people in the world who can relate to Carpenter’s unusual path to the Red Sox.
Randy Winn spent 13 years in the big leagues, primarily with the Rays, Mariners and Giants. He was a versatile outfielder who could impact the game in any number of ways, and who earned an All-Star berth with Tampa Bay in 2002.
And he also was part of an unusual trade in 2002 that ended up assuming quite a bit of relevance this offseason. After the 2002 season, the Rays — who suffered through five brutal years — wanted to change the culture of losing that engulfed their organization. The team wanted to hire area native Lou Piniella away from the Mariners.
Piniella was game and so were the Mariners, but with a catch. They would require compensation in order to part with a manager who remained under contract.
And so, the deal was worked out, with Winn — coming off an All-Star season — going to Seattle in exchange for Piniella and minor league utility infielder Antonio Perez. That, in turn, made Winn an easy punchline.
“I got heckled by people for being traded for a manager,” Winn, now retired at 37, said with a laugh. “I don’t know how old Lou was, but I heard, ‘You got traded for a 65-year-old man! You’re terrible.’ I was like, nothing I can say about that.”
But Winn defied such claims by being a solid regular for several years with the Mariners, and ultimately, he embraced the fact that he’d been a part of a trade that made him an answer to a trivia question. After all, not only was he deemed worthy of being traded for one of the game’s most notable managers, but he also got to leave a 55-106 Devil Rays team for a Mariners squad that had gone 93-69 in 2002 and was considered a perennial contender at the time.
“It was awesome,” Winn said of being dealt for Piniella. “I played in Tampa. It was all my firsts – first hit, first start, first stolen base. I loved my time there. It was where I got my first chance to experience being a big leaguer. But we were struggling at that time; we weren’t playing well. Then I got to get traded to the Mariners, who, in 2001 had won 116 games, in 2002 were a really good team.
“I was going to them after that, to a team that not only had been to the playoffs but expected to go to the playoffs and expected to win. I went to a team that had been struggling but gave me all my firsts to one that was expected to win.”
Winn, now on the board of the Baseball Assistance Team (in which capacity he visited the Sox clubhouse on Friday) that provides assistance to former ballplayers in need, said that he remained unaware that he was brought up on multiple occasions this offseason. He was aware that he was involved in one of the few deals ever for a non-player, but didn’t realize that he was being used for that reason as a relevant precedent with Ozzie Guillen going from the White Sox to the Marlins and Epstein heading from the Sox to the Cubs.
Even so, Winn suggested that there’s no need for players like Carpenter to have any qualms about the circumstances of their trades so long as they have found a good landing spot.
“I wasn’t really concerned about who I got traded for or how it came to be,” said Winn. “For me personally it was just a chance to go to a winning team.”
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