Jon Daniels was announced as the new general manager of the Rangers on October 4th, 2005. At 28, he was the youngest GM in Major League history.
In mid-November of '05, Daniels struck his first deal. He and Cubs GM Jim Hendry agreed on a trade that would send righty Jon Leicester to Texas for a player to be named later. Minor league pitcher Clint Brannon was sent to the Cubs as the PTBNL in March. Daniels was kind enough to answer a few questions about his first trade.
MLB Trade Rumors: How long did you have your eye on Leicester before making the deal? He was coming off a rough year in Iowa; what did you see in him? As one of the Cubs' better prospects heading prior to the '05 season, were you surprised they'd part with him for a player to be named later or cash?
Jon Daniels: He was an out of options reliever – a guy we'd had good reports on in the past, had recently gotten over an injury I believe. We looked at him as a nice buy low opportunity, with a chance to pay dividends if it clicked. The Cubs didn’t have a spot for him – some clubs hold their out of options guys as long as possible – others recognize he's not part of their plans and move quicker, that's what happened here.
MLBTR: The Cubs ended up getting Brannon in March to complete the deal, but got only 7.3 A ball innings out of him. Did any of the other choices on the Cubs' list of possibilities end up playing in the Majors?
Daniels: I don't think there were other names, actually. Brannon was the only guy we discussed. He'd had some low level success the year before – might have actually set the Northwest League ERA record if I recall – but didn't do well in Chicago. That's OK – Leicester hurt himself in some odd off-field deal and didn't really pan out here – no one made out in this one.
MLBTR: Does the Leicester trade hold significance for you as your first deal, or was it overshadowed by the bigger trades that soon followed?
Daniels: Not a lot of significance other than the fact I get to say I traded for Jon "Lester" before people realize it’s the one spelled "Leicester."
MLBTR: What kind of relationship did you have with Jim Hendry prior to the Leicester trade?
Daniels: I knew Jim some from his dealings with John Hart when I worked for John. We'd spent some time together at GM and Winter Meetings before, but we didn't have a lot of history together. We've worked together a couple of times since.
MLBTR: At just 28 years old, what kind of reception did you get from other GMs after you got the job?
Daniels: Respectful and positive for the most part. My age was a novelty for the first while, but more with media and fans than with counterparts around the league, at least outwardly.