Padres Editorial: Ranking The Greatest Free Agent Signings #5


Since the 2014 season ended, San Diego PadresGM A.J. Preller made it his mission to remake a franchise that was stuck in purgatory. Not quite a legitimate playoff contender, yet not nearly as bad as many other clubs sprinkled throughout baseball. The fan base was half asleep, and nobody seemed to care: except for Preller, CEO Mike Dee, and the team that both men had put together to rebuild a formerly competitive franchise into an NL West powerhouse. The culmination of a successful off-season came about at the beginning of this week, when the Friars signed free agent and resident San Diegan, James Shields. Now, 1-4, the Padres’ rotation can compete with anyone, anywhere, and their lineup is just as imposing. 

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As everyone that follows, writes, or simply loves the Padres continue to celebrate, and countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting to Arizona for the start of Spring Training, 2015, we here at Friars On Base are going to do a five-part series, starting today, counting down the five greatest free agent signings in the history of the team. Let’s get it going with #5 on that list!

On December 29th, 1995, our number five best free agent signing in franchise history officially became a member of the San Diego Padres. This free agent came to San Diego as the greatest basestealer and lead-off man of all-time. He brought swagger, he brought ability, and he brought performance. During his first season in American’s Finest City, he stole 37 bases at the age of 37, and still scored 110 runs.

Unfortunately, during his second year with the Padres, the team decided to move in a different direction, and dealt this future Hall of Famer to the Anaheim Angels. But not before he posted a solid season, hitting .274, while stealing 29 bags and scoring 63 runs. It wouldn’t be the last time this player donned a Padres uniform.

He returned in 2001, and at 42-years old, he swiped 25 more bags, and scored 70 runs. On the final day of the season, which just happened to be Mr. Padre, Tony Gywnn’s final game of his illustrious career, this man recorded his 3,000th career hit. It was only the second time in the past century, that two teammates played in the same game, who were also a part of the 3,000-hit club. This player finished atop the MLB career list for stolen bases and runs. Who was the fifth greatest free agent in Padres history? None other than Rickey Henderson.

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