Padres News: Ranking The Greatest Free Agent Signings of All-Time, #1

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If you’ve been following along in our series, which we started just over a week ago, you knew it had to come to this. At the end of the day, postseason success trumps any individual success or accolade from the regular season. San Diego Padres GM Jack McKeon, had his sights set on making the Friars contenders, but he needed some building blocks in which to construct a team around.

McKeon had already been busy the previous couple of years, making the necessary moves to improve certain aspects of the team. He traded popular closer Rollie Fingers to the St. Louis Cardinals for future All-Star catcher, Terry Kennedy. Coming up from the minor league system was San Diego State University standout, Tony Gwynn, but this team needed a leader. This team needed someone who had the experience AND respect to come in to a new situation, and set the tone not only that season, but for the duration of his contract. 

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That man of course, was the National League Iron Man, first baseman, Steven Patrick Garvey. After almost a decade and a half destroying the Padres as the heart and soul of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Garvey jumped ship after winning his only World Series title the previous Fall. McKeon stole Garvey away from the Dodgers by blowing the Dodgers’ offer out of the water. Similar to A.J. Preller in this day and age, it’s been tough to get that first impact free agent to sign, but once he did, the rest of the pieces quickly came together. Garvey signed a five-year, $6.6 million dollar deal with San Diego.

While the days of being an elite run producer were long over, Garvey played an integral part in the development of the young Padres, and their pursuit of the postseason. After a strong 1983 season, one in which Garvey hit .294 with 14 home runs and 59 driven in, the 1984 season was magical for everone who loved the Padres, or was a member of their organization. McKeon, along with manager Dick Williams, Garvey, Gwynn, Graig Nettles and Rich Gossage helped to lead the Friars to the NL pennant. The Padres lost that World Series to the Detroit Tigers in five games, but it doesn’t matter.

Since that time, the Padres have only been to one other Fall Classic, a dismantling at the hands of the New York Yankees in 1998. While Steve Garvey never posted monster numbers, his leadership and impact have forever affected the San Diego Padres franchise. That is why his signing, ranks as the number one greatest free agent signing in team history. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series!

Next: Padres Off-Season Pursuits End On Strange Note

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