Cubs trade Patterson to O's for two minor-leaguers

Updated: January 9, 2006, 7:21 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Outfielder Corey Patterson, once projected as the Chicago Cubs' star of the future, was traded to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday for a pair of minor leaguers: shortstop Nate Spears and left-hander Carlos Perez.

Corey Patterson

The 26-year-old Patterson hit .252 with 70 homers in parts of six major league seasons with the Cubs, appearing in 589 games. He was the Cubs' first-round pick and third player taken overall in the 1998 amateur draft.

Patterson tore a knee ligament midway through 2003 during a breakout season, when he batted .298 with 13 homers.

He started 111 games in center field for the Cubs last year, struggling with a .215 average and just 13 homers in 126 games. The Cubs demoted him to Triple-A Iowa to work on his batting stroke, and he played 24 games in the minors before returning.

"Basically, I thought I played well with the Cubs other than in 2005," Patterson said. "I just got into a rut, and before I knew it I couldn't get out of it."

Patterson was booed loudly and often at Wrigley Field and became expendable after the offseason acquisitions of Juan Pierre and Jacque Jones.

"If he is not going to have a chance to be a full-time player, he is not going to be able to correct the things that led him to have a bad year last year," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "It was not a good fit for him to be a bench player here at this point, after what happened last year."

Patterson believes a change of scenery could enable him to get back on track.

"Obviously, last year wasn't the best situation for me," he said. "I thought all along that getting a new start was important. I look at it as a positive."

Patterson adds depth to a depleted outfield and could challenge Luis Matos for the starting center field job. Baltimore declined to offer left fielder Eric Byrnes a contract and saw a tentative agreement with Jeromy Burnitz fall through when he decided to sign with Pittsburgh. Burnitz likely would have started in left.

"I'm most comfortable in center because I've played much of my career there, but I've played all three outfield positions so that isn't an issue for me," he said.

He also hopes to provide speed at the top of the lineup, perhaps in the No. 2 spot ahead of Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada.

"I'm a guy who can get on base, and if I can steal bases and get into scoring position, that would really help the team," Patterson said.

Said Hendry: "It's a situation where Baltimore gets a chance to take a good gamble on a kid who still has a lot of upside if it works."

The 20-year-old Spears spent last season at Baltimore's Carolina League affiliate at Frederick, Md. The left-handed hitter batted .294 with 30 doubles, six triples, six homers and 41 RBI in 112 games.

Perez recorded his first career double-digit winning season last year, going 11-8 in 27 starts for Class-A Delmarva. The 23-year-old worked a career-high 151 1/3 innings and struck out 146 while walking just 61.

"We felt we got two good players," Hendry said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press