CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs became an even bigger player in the National League Wild Card race.
The Cubs completed a complicated four-way, eight-player deal Saturday at the trading deadline with the key acquisition being five-time All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra from the Boston Red Sox.
"He's a great player," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said of Garciaparra. "His accomplishments and his ability speak for themselves. He's a tremendous, tremendous player and I think he's capable of giving us a huge shot in the arm here down the stretch. Obviously, we gave up some talent."
Here's the breakdown: the Cubs traded minor league left-handed pitcher Justin Jones to the Minnesota Twins for infielder Doug Mientkiewicz. The Cubs then sent Mientkiewicz, infielders Alex Gonzalez and Brendan Harris and right-handed pitcher Francis Beltran to the Red Sox.
Boston sent Garciaparra, minor league outfielder Matt Murton and cash considerations to the Cubs, and the Red Sox also sent Gonzalez, Beltran and Harris to the Montreal Expos for infielder Orlando Cabrera.
"It's not every day that you're going to pick up a Nomar Garciaparra," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "It's tough on one end when you lose one of your family like 'Gonzo' but you're getting a heck of a player here. We're getting a guy who can play shortstop and a guy who's used to winning."
The Cubs, who are in the race for the National League Wild Card, are hoping Garciaparra can provide an offensive spark that's been missing. He was expected in a Cubs uniform Sunday in time to start against the Philadelphia Phillies. He'll get to Wrigley Field just in time for some history as Chicago pitcher Greg Maddux seeks his 300th career win.
Garciaparra, 31, was batting .321 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 38 games. He opened the season on the disabled list and missed the first 57 games because of a sore Achilles.
The shortstop has spent his entire Major League career with the Red Sox. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1997 and has finished in the top 10 in American League MVP Voting in five seasons.
Baker said he wasn't sure where he'd fit Garciaparra into the Cubs lineup, but called it a nice luxury to have. Garciaparra has primarily batted fifth for the Red Sox this year and was hitting .386 in 21 games in July.
"I've got to go home tonight and pencil some stuff," Baker said. "I'll be that guy in the commercial who's drawing a new car and has 18 pieces of paper. We have to see where he fits first. We'll see how he affects other guys in the lineup and come up with the best lineup we can."
A career .243 hitter, Gonzalez was batting .217 in 37 games for the Cubs. He'd been sidelined after being hit by a pitch on his right wrist May 5 and hadn't provided the offense the team needed.
"'Gonzo' has done a very good job here for us," Hendry said. "I think the hard part was 'Gonzo' missed 70 something days, and to expect him to come back and play as well as he has the first couple of years was hard to ask of him.
"I think he would've eventually gotten to his sharpest level," Hendry said, "but we're obviously at a critical point. We're way behind the Cardinals [in the Central Division] and we're right in the thick of things in the Wild Card race. I thought if we're going to try to do something, we're going to try to do something at shortstop."
Nomar Garciaparra / SS
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
The Cubs also talked to the Expos about acquiring Cabrera. Hendry said he didn't initiate the complicated trade with the Red Sox, Twins and Expos.
"I'm not usually one to be creative enough to do these four-way deals," he said. "I always call them 'Billy Beane deals.' I'm from the school that it's a hard enough job to do a one-on-one. The potential that it became a three- and four-way was probably at lunch time today."
And, yes, Beane, the Oakland Athletics general manager, is aware of Hendry's take on his creative ways. This is the first four-way trade in Cubs history.
"It takes two to tango to make a deal," Baker said, "and in this case it took four to tango."
Hendry wasn't sure when talks began with the Red Sox regarding Garciaparra.
"When you have a player of that stature, you're really subject totally to what [Red Sox general manager] Theo Epstein decides to do and whether he wants to move him or not," Hendry said. "I can't remember who made the first call. I didn't know for sure if he would ever move him. I don't think Theo was going to make a deal just to move Nomar because you heard he wanted out of the league or he was unhappy. I don't think that was the case at all."
Hendry said the general managers from the Twins, Red Sox and Expos did what was in the "best interest" for each club. When Hendry arrived at Wrigley Field at 7 a.m. CT on Saturday, he wasn't sure whether he would make a deal or not.
"Obviously a lot of cards were on the table," Hendry said. "I had made up my mind that I was not going to make a deal that was a bad one. I had a chance to make some bad deals all week. I had no problem if Alex Gonzalez was our shortstop and I'd keep an eye on an August trade."
Murton, who will be assigned to the Cubs' Class A team in Daytona, was a key pickup, Hendry said. He was batting .301 with 16 doubles, four triples, 11 homers and 55 RBIs in 102 games at Class A Sarasota.
Beltran, 24, has split time between the Cubs and Triple-A Iowa. He was 2-2 with a 4.63 ERA with the big league team. Harris, 23, was the Cubs' fifth-round pick in 2001 and was hitting .311 at Iowa. Jones, 19, a second-round pick in 2002, was 3-3 with a 3.78 ERA for Class A Lansing.
Hendry was very active last season, acquiring Kenny Lofton, Aramis Ramirez and Randall Simon to help the Cubs win the Central Division for the first time. The Cubs began Saturday 10 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the division.
"The deal here is you can pick a quality player off a team who hasn't been through the wars and he may not do the same," said Cubs second baseman Todd Walker, who was Garciaparra's teammate last season in Boston. "But Nomar has been in the playoffs three or four times in Boston, and there's no harder place to play than Boston. To come over here in this high pressure situation, I think he'll do well."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.