There’s no doubt Greg Garcia felt the sting of the Padres’ decision to set him adrift into a free agency period like no other, just as the franchise builds unequaled steam toward becoming a World Series contender.
Garcia sees where they’re headed, knows where they’re headed — and man, oh man, did he want to be a part of it.
“That’s all I thought about,” the El Cajon native said Wednesday. “I wanted that more than anything. This team is going places the next five, seven years. They’re going to be really good.”
Garcia, 31, lived a picture-perfect baseball dream for two seasons, playing for the team he grew up watching in his hometown. Pieces thundered into place, from Manny Machado to Fernando Tatis Jr., Dinelson Lamet and now, the pitching punch of Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. Expectations soared.
Then, General Manager A.J. Preller called. Business reality punctured the baseball bliss.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for A.J. and I think the feeling’s mutual,” Garcia said of the conversation in early December. “The thing I like about A.J. is, he’s never one to sugarcoat anything. He’s going to shoot straight, to your face. I hate the ... ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ type of thing. That’s like a bad breakup, right? It’s not like that with him.
“He was very up front about what they’re doing as an organization and why they thought this was the right move. No hard feelings. He’s a great GM. He’s doing great things.”
That in no way stifled the sadness.
“Dude, 100 percent,” Garcia said of the initial deflation. “I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t want to be a part of what’s going on. There are a lot of guys who never get to the playoffs in their careers. The Padres are a winning organization right now and will be for a lot of years.”
To Garcia, the situation represented more than a simple attempt to be professional and ace the exit interview. He understood and appreciated how special the last two seasons became, inside and outside the clubhouse.