TIME for Fish fans to bid farewell to a favourite after Winnipeg dealt starting pitcher Matt Rusch to the Trois-Rivières Aigles of the CanAm League.
The trade came at Rusch's behest. The 30-year-old played in the CanAm League previously, where he won two championships with the Quebec Capitales in 2010 and 2011. He landed in Goldeyes manager Rick Forney's lap before the 2012 season after his girlfriend, who is originally from Quebec, took a job in Winnipeg.
Rusch promptly led the Fish to their 2012 American Association championship and was the winning pitcher of record in the championship game. Over two seasons, he went 17-8 with a 3.27 ERA in 44 starts. The outgoing, gracious pitcher was also a popular character in the clubhouse and with fans.
But after his partner's work circumstances recently changed, Rusch asked Fish manager Rick Forney to help find him a place back east.
"This was a tough trade for us to make because Matt brought so much to our organization and helped us win a championship two years ago," Forney said in a release on Wednesday. "He expressed the desire and need to get back to the east and we're happy to accommodate him."
In return for Rusch, the Goldeyes will get revisionary rights to slugger Cam Kneeland, whose contract was purchased by the Baltimore Orioles last week. If his minor-league stint doesn't work out and he sought to return to independent ball, he would become Fish property.
"We'd be awfully excited to have him be part of our organization," Forney said of Kneeland, who hit .306 with nine home runs and 62 RBI in 99 games last season.