St. Louis Cardinals: Cubs Defectors Who Became Cardinals
Baseball often shares news of players defecting from their homelands to come to the USA for the American past-time. The St. Louis Cardinals have two stories now of defectors departing the homeland of the Cubs for baseball heaven in St. Louis.
The Dexter Fowler signing marked only the second time that a player has moved from the Chicago Cubs to the St. Louis Cardinals; I had read this numerous times on Twitter after the Fowler news. The only other time this occurred was in 2005 when the Cardinals signed former-Cub Mark Grudzielanek.
After reading this trivia tidbit over and over again, I finally found myself wanting to know more. Sp let’s take a moment to revisit the first Cubs-to-Cardinals defection.
Mark Grudzielanek, one of the most difficult names to type, was drafted in the eleventh round of the 1991 draft by the Montreal Expos. For those readers who weren’t alive at the time, the Expos were the team that eventually relocated to the continental United States and became the Washington Nationals.
Grudz (is it okay if I just write his name this way? It is really tough to type each time…) had played ball at Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, CO before being drafted. He made his MLB debut for the Expos in April of 1995- get this- facing the Chicago Cubs. In his debut he had one at-bat and failed to record a hit.
To his credit, however, he posted a slash line of .245/.300/.316 in his rookie season of 1995 in 269 at-bats. These at-bats amassed to a number that exceeded rookie limits for the season as he was needed that year by the Expos. For his career in Montreal, Grudz posted a slash line of .281/.320/.378 across 1,971 at-bats.
Three years later, in 1998, Grudz was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he played until the conclusion of the 2002 season. In LA, Grudz appeared in 2,373 at-bats posting a slash of .284/.328/.389. Grudz spent five seasons in Los Angeles as their short stop first and then moving in his final two years to play second base for them.
In 2002, Grudz was once again used as a trade piece this time headed for the Chicago Cubs. He spent two seasons with the Cubs appearing in 738 at-bats and posting a slash line of .312/.360/.421. In his first season with the Cubs, Grudz tied St. Louis Cardinals Jim Edmonds in the MVP voting at twenty-seventh overall.
At the end of the 2004 season, Grudz was granted free agency from the Cubs- sound similar? At this point he was grabbed by the St. Louis Cardinals to fill the Cardinals need at second base. In the 2005 season, Grudz appeared in 528 at-bats and posted a .294/.334/.407 slash.
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After only one season in St. Louis, Grudz was granted free agency once again, this time landing with the Royals. Grudz played for the Royals until the end of the 2008 season when he was again granted free agency (a catching theme for his career).
Grudz joined the Twins organization in July 2009 but on a minor league contract. The time off between his stint with the Royals and his joining the Twins proved too much for him and he never broke into the Twins MLB roster. Sadly, Grudz was released by Minnesota almost as quickly as he was picked up (released in August of 2009).
Cleveland took the gamble on Grudz and signed him in the offseason prior to the 2010 campaign. Grudz played his final game with the Indians in June of 2010.
So while Grudz isn’t exactly Fower, and certainly the details are different, Grudz was a serviceable defection from the Cubbies. Now the hope resides in whether Fowler will impact across five years- his contract span- as or better than Grudz did in his one season.
I believe that Fowler will make a great impact and will be an outstanding defection. I also remember very much liking Grudz. What do you think? Will Fowler make a huge splash for us?