Reds acquire Guardado from Mariners

Reds acquire Guardado from Mariners

ATLANTA -- Reinforcements are coming to help the Reds' beleaguered bullpen.

Cincinnati acquired veteran left-handed reliever Eddie Guardado from the Mariners on Thursday in exchange for pitching prospect Travis Chick and cash.

The deal comes at an opportune time for the Reds' bullpen, which blew two leads in extra innings on Wednesday before the team lost at Milwaukee and was swept in three games.

Guardado, a two-time All-Star with the Twins in 2002 and 2003, is expected to become the Reds' new closer, with Todd Coffey returning to his setup role. The deal has reunited the 35-year-old Guardado with Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky, who was in Minnesota's front office as assistant GM for a decade.

"I know him well," Krivsky said from Sarasota, Fla., where he was watching the organization's Class A team. "We've got a really good relationship. I feel he's got a lot left. We feel that he can go into the closer's role, and we're excited to have him."

Guardado will join the club before Friday's game, when a corresponding roster move will be announced. It will likely mean that lefty Michael Gosling will be sent back down following a one-game recall from Triple-A Louisville on Thursday.

In 28 relief appearances this season, Guardado was 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA and five saves. After a string of poor outings, he lost his closer's job to J.J. Putz in May and had been unhappy in a setup role. Last season, Guardado was 2-3 with a 2.72 ERA and 36 saves.

"I was surprised," Guardado said by phone from Seattle, where he was spending an off-day crab fishing with his children. "When Wayne told me they wanted to me close, I was really excited. Hopefully, I can do the job."

The Reds' bullpen entered Thursday's game ranked last in the National League with a 5.28 ERA. It had blown three of its last four save opportunities and 11 of the last 19.

"I hope I can help these guys anyway I can," said Guardado.

According to a source with knowledge of the deal, the Commissioner's office had to approve the trade, because Seattle is picking up a majority of Guardado's remaining $6.25 million salary in the final year of a three-year, $17 million contract he signed in December 2003.

Krivsky declined to comment on how much money Cincinnati was receiving in the acquisition.

Guardado earned the nickname "Everyday Eddie" for his willingness to pitch whenever needed while with the Twins from 1993 to 2003. In his first full season as Minnesota's closer, in 2002, he led the American League with a career-best 45 saves.

Krivsky hopes that Guardado can return to his better seasons while with Cincinnati, which is trying to contend for its first playoff berth since 1995.

"He battles and has a lot of guts," Krivsky said. "He's not afraid. He wants the ball, and we'll give him a chance."

Manager Jerry Narron remembered seeing Guardado when managing against his team while with the Texas Rangers.

"He took the ball every day for them. He pitched a lot," Narron said. "You knew he wasn't going to give in and that he was going to battle. You knew he was going to compete really well. You knew he was going to pitch and not just throw."

Guardado was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder in August 2004 and missed the rest of the season. On his doctor's advice, he opted to rehabilitate from the injury instead of having surgery.

The Reds' medical team did its due diligence and talked with Guardado's orthopedist, Dr. Lewis Yocum, before the trade was finalized. Everything checked out OK.

"He's fine," Krivsky said.

Going to Seattle is the 22-year-old Chick, who was 4-5 with a 4.61 ERA in 16 starts at Double-A Chattanooga this season. Along with right-hander Justin Germano, Chick was acquired from San Diego on July 23, 2005, for third baseman Joe Randa.

Coffey entered Thursday's game with a 3.05 ERA and seven saves this season. In his first 23 appearances -- mostly in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings -- the right-hander posted a 0.65 ERA. Over his last 16 games since May 26, the first-time closer had a 7.02 ERA and blew a save at Milwaukee on Monday without recording an out.

Maintaining an upbeat attitude, Coffey had no problem moving back to a setup role, where he will join Kent Mercker and David Weathers.

"[Narron] can use me however he wants to use me," Coffey said. "This improves our team. That's what matters. I still have to go out there and do my job when they call on me."

Guardado had a reputation for providing veteran leadership in both the Minnesota and Seattle clubhouses. He remained close friends with Putz, whom he often helped and advised, even after losing his job to him.

The younger Coffey could also benefit from knowing Guardado.

"He's someone to learn from, which is always good," Coffey said. "Just like I pick Mercker's and [Weathers'] brains, I'll pick Eddie's, too."

"I've been having a tough time," Guardado said. "Hopefully, I can get back on track with the Cincinnati Reds. I'm ready to give them everything I've got."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.