This day ten years ago, the Padres made their greatest free agent signing in their near-half-decade of existence. This was a deal that made acquiring Steve Garvey look like small potatoes, one that made locking up James Shields pale in comparison.
Okay, maybe just to me. I don't think that too many other people were that excited about San Diego inking former White Sox reliever Jon Adkins, but to me it was a big deal. A huge deal. You see, us West Virginians don't have many of our own make it to the majors, and of those who do, even fewer ended up playing for the Padres. Five, to be exact. So, as possibly the only Padres fan born in and still living in West Virginia, I was beyond thrilled.
Personal bias aside, the signing really did work out well for the Padres. Adkins began the season with the AAA Portland Beavers, and after a lights-out stretch there, he was promoted in time for the big club's thirteenth game of the season. He got roughed around in his first three appearances, earning a trip back up to Oregon, but when he returned in early May he settled into form and spent the rest of the season in the majors. Adkins made a career-high 55 appearances for the Padres in 2006, mostly pitching the seventh inning once he established himself. He ended the season with a 3.98 ERA and a slightly above average ERA+ of 102, and his 2-1 record was the difference between winning the division and losing it.
The 2006 season was his only one in San Diego; Adkins was traded that November along with outfielder Ben Johnson to the Mets for two pitchers, Heath Bell and Royce Ring. Bell developed into an All-Star closer for the Padres, making the signing of Jon Adkins a gift that kept on giving.