Behind the Scenes Details of the Heilman Trade Revealed

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Behind the Scenes Details of the Heilman Trade Revealed

Chicago Cubs

The offseason has been an active – sometimes painfully so – one for the Chicago Cubs. The most recent, and for some the most perplexing, major move was the trade of Ronny Cedeno and Garrett Olson to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Aaron Heilman.

Because of its perceived relationship to the possible Jake Peavy trade, Cubs fans want to know what was going on in general manager Jim Hendry’s head when he made the deal.

Well now we get a little bit of insight, straight from the guy on the other side of the deal. Read about it, after the jump.

A recent Seattle Post-Intelligencer (is that last word an oxymoron?) article sheds some light on the exchanges between, and thought processes of the general managers involved in the Heilman trade. And some of it is downright surprising.

Since acquiring Heilman, Zduriencik and Hendry had gone back and forth on a trade because Hendry had a key slot for a guy who wanted out of the bullpen job that had befallen and befuddled him with the Mets — No. 5 starting pitcher.

Zduriencik stood firm against Hendry’s pleadings until he acquired Olson from Baltimore on Jan. 18. In 2005, Zduriencik, then with Milwaukee, scouted Olson when he pitched at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo before becoming a first-round pick of the Orioles.

Whoa – two big revelations right off the bat: the Mariners wanted Garrett Olson all along. For years, in fact. It now seems more than plausible that when Jim Hendry acquired Garrett Olson from the Orioles, it wasn’t as bait for the Padres in a Jake Peavy trade. It was as bait for the Mariners in an Aaron Heilman trade.

And also, Jim Hendry was definitely looking at Aaron Heilman as a fifth starter option from the word go, despite his tremendous success in the pen.

Zduriencik pushed his leverage, asking that Cedeno, 26, a three-position player who hit .269 in 99 games for the Cubs, be included in the deal. At that moment, Hendry, on vacation in Italy, hemmed and hawed as he stood outside the Vatican. Then he wanted an hour to think about it. When he called back to say yes, Zduriencik couldn’t resist: “You must have gotten divine inspiration.”

Bam, revelation number two. Hendry wasn’t shopping Cedeno to the Mariners, as we had all thought. It was the Mariners who asked about Cedeno.

Some of the article has to be taken with a grain of salt – the writer has a clear agenda to make the Mariners’ GM look like a genius. Naturally, this makes Jim Hendry look like the unwitting dope on the other end of a Derrek Lee – Hee Seop Choi swap.

Even still, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Jim Hendry forged a very public effort to acquire Heilman last year from the Mets, so when he called up the Mariners, they had to know they could push him around a bit.

It also leaves a bad taste in my mouth about the Felix Pie trade (and the Mark DeRosa trade, though I still feel the Cubs will be fine without DeRosa). If Hendry knew all along that the Mariners wanted Olson – and the Padres wanted Olson – and he moved Olson before such a time as Peavy could realistically be traded, then he didn’t really get all that he could for Felix Pie.

What do I mean?

I mean that Pie to the Orioles for Olson (and I’m not forgetting you, little Henry Williamson) represented a chance that Hendry was really putting together a plan for the offseason, thy name was Peavy, and the players that were out of options were going to play a conveniently awesome role in that plan.

But obviously that wasn’t the case. Jim just wanted Aaron Heilman. And I really like Aaron Heilman. As a reliever.

But Jim wanted Aaron Heilman… as a starter.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.