Cubs Trade for Ryan Freel

You always can count on the Baltimore Orioles to try and provide a bailout for underperforming Chicago Cubs players. Enter outfielder Joey Gathright. The Cubs agreed to a trade Friday with the Orioles -- the team whose President of Baseball Operations is former Cubs President Andy MacPhail. Chicago sent Gathright to Baltimore for INF/OF Ryan Freel and cash considerations.

Gathright, 28, was never considered to be anything above an average addition to the Cubs' bench when he signed a one-year, $800,000 contract back on Dec. 16, 2008.

Gathright played in 20 games for Chicago, mostly as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner and/or late-inning defensive replacement, batting .214 (3-for-14) and making only one start (on May 5 against San Francisco).

Initially, the signing of Gathright helped trigger another trade between the Cubs and Orioles; that one involving former top prospect Felix Pie being dealt to Baltimore for pitchers Garrett Olson and Henry Williamson. (The Cubs in turn dealt Olson and INF Ronny Cedeno to Seattle to acquire right-handed reliever Aaron Heilman.)

According to published reports, Gathright was sent to the minor leagues earlier in the day and will report to the Orioles' Class AAA team in Norfolk.

Freel, 33, had played in nine games with Baltimore, batting .133 (2-for-15). He was placed on the 15-day disabled list after being struck in the head during a pickoff attempt on April 20 in a game at Boston.

There are reports that Freel was upset over a "stress test" the Orioles asked him to take before sending him to the minors to begin rehab. At the time of the trade, he was serving a rehab stint at Class AA Bowie, where he was 1-for-9 in three games.

Freel is hardly a stranger to Wrigley Field, having spent parts of six seasons with Cincinnati before he was traded to Baltimore as part of a four-player deal for catcher Ramon Hernandez last December. He has played in 29 games at Wrigley Field, batting .228 (21-for-92) with two home runs and five doubles.

Versatility is Freel's strong suit, and he has played five different positions in the field: all three outfield positions plus third base and second base.

He owns a career .271 average with 22 home runs, 98 doubles and 118 RBI in 562 major league games and has stolen 142 bases in 190 attempts.

A season ago, Freel batted .298 with eight doubles in 48 games for Cincinnati in an injury shortened season. He is expected to join the Cubs Saturday in Milwaukee.

Information from the Cubs' Media Relations Office was used in this report.

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