Excited Ensberg headed to San Diego

Excited Ensberg headed to Padres

ATLANTA -- Morgan Ensberg knew he couldn't be choosy about what team he would play for next, but he admittedly was completely blown away when general manager Tim Purpura called him to tell him he was headed to the San Diego Padres.

Ensberg was pleasantly surprised, because if he could have picked any team, it would have been San Diego, where he and his wife, Christi, own a home.

Two days after Ensberg, a native of Southern California, was designated for assignment, the Astros sent the third baseman, along with cash considerations, to the Padres in exchange for cash considerations and a player to be named, or just cash considerations.

By the end of the year, the Padres will submit to the Astros a list of players that are available. The Astros will make a decision by the end of the year regarding whom they want to take as the player to be named. If they don't like any of the options, a cash amount will be exchanged instead. The list of choices will consist of mid-level Minor Leaguers.

The Astros made no other deals by the 3 p.m. CT deadline. On Saturday, they sent right-hander Dan Wheeler to the Devil Rays in exchange for third baseman Ty Wigginton.

The Astros fielded many offers for infielders Mike Lamb and Mark Loretta, the two players who were coveted by other teams and available. Closer Brad Lidge is believed to have been off the table.

The offers, however, were far below what the Astros would want in exchange for their two veteran infielders. There was more interest in Loretta, but Purpura passed on accepting offers for either, mainly because interested clubs weren't offering future Major League talent.

"We were really underwhelmed with the kind of players that we were offered," Purpura said. "Basically, they were organizational-type players that weren't going to help us in the future.

"You have a line that you draw as an organization, as far as what's acceptable compensation for a player. Why take on players that you don't project as Major League players? You're just cluttering your organization. We made proposals for better players. We couldn't get anybody to accept those kinds of proposals."

Purpura prefers to keep Loretta and Lamb and receive Draft picks for them should the club not re-sign them. The GM, however, has not ruled out making an attempt to re-sign one or both once they hit free agency this winter.

The Astros were quiet on the trade front as the final minutes of the deadline passed, but they were somewhat active over the weekend.

Ensberg, 32, was designated for assignment on Sunday after the club acquired Wigginton. The Astros had 10 days to trade, release or reassign Ensberg to the Minor Leagues.

With no intentions to put him back in the farm system, the Astros' hope was to find a trade partner, which allows for them to rid themselves of a portion of what remains on his $4.35 million contract for 2007. Ensberg had $1.4 million remaining on his contract, and it is believed that the Astros will pick up approximately half of that.

For Ensberg, the happy ending is more than he could have imagined.

"I'm just so excited and really am kind of blown away by the whole situation," Ensberg said via cell phone. "Tim gave me a call and said I was traded, and my heart dropped. Shoot, I could have gone anywhere.

"He said San Diego. I said, 'You're kidding me.' He said, 'No.'"

Said Purpura: "Morgan, despite his last two seasons, was a big part of this club. He was part of one of the most successful periods in our history. Those are the kind of guys that we want to see get opportunities and do well. To give him an opportunity to play in San Diego, near his home, I couldn't think of anything better done in his behalf. I was grateful to make that deal."

Since recieving the news, the Ensbergs have been "smiling and crying," the third baseman said. "It's been really great."

The past week has been an emotional roller coaster for Ensberg, who had lost his starting job some time ago in favor of Lamb and, on occasion, Loretta. He was both saddened and somewhat relieved when he was given his walking papers on Sunday, and now, his emotions have escalated to sheer joy.

"It was a tremendous low, and an acceptance, and then an incredible high," Ensberg said. "Even though my mind isn't so sharp now, I'm positive this is a blessing from God. He allowed this to happen."

Ensberg has several friends and acquaintances who play for the Padres. He and former Astro Geoff Blum are close friends, and he's met Trevor Hoffman and Brian Giles through former teammate and San Diego native Brad Ausmus.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.