Rangers gain strong bat in Marlins’ Cantu
Latest trade addition fills gap for Texas and satisfies versatile player
SAN FRANCISCO — Jorge Cantu saw the light blinking on his cell phone when he got to his locker and knew it might finally be time. Then, he read the text message from his agent: He was headed for Texas.
The AL West-leading Rangers added another key piece for the playoff push, acquiring the rock-solid hitting Cantu from the Florida Marlins on Thursday for two good minor league pitchers.
“Deep inside I’m very sad to leave the Marlins, of course,” Cantu said. “My turn is to go right now to the Texas Rang- ers and help that ballclub out. They’re playing well and winning the division. I think it will be fun. Whenever you go to a new team it’s always fun and exciting.”
Cantu will join Texas in Anaheim tonight.
“This was one of the bigger holes we wanted to address,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “I would expect most of his playing time will come at first base, but you never know.”
Cantu, 28, hit .262 with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs for Florida. He’s expected to the right-handed part of a platoon with either rookie Mitch Moreland or Chris Davis, one of whom is likely to be sent down to clear a spot for Cantu.
In two previous seasons for the Marlins, Cantu batted .277 with 29 homers and 95 RBIs in 2008 and .289 with 16 homers and 100 RBIs.
Cantu came up as a second baseman and earlier Thursday the Rangers put their starter, All-Star Ian Kinsler, on the disabled list. Daniels called Cantu’s versatility “an attractive footnote; it wasn’t the reason we acquired him.”
Daniels said the Rangers are picking up more than half of Cantu’s salary, which is significant because the team is bankrupt.
“We’ve had the ability to spend within our budget all along,” Daniels said. “This does not break from that.”
This was Texas’ third trade leading up to the deadline. The Rangers also got ace Cliff Lee from Seattle and Bengie Molina from San Francisco.
Cantu’s 16 errors were concerning for a Florida club that has struggled on defense. He also can become a free agent after the season.
The Rangers sent DoubleA right-handers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda to Florida. Giving up two solid arms for a part-time player headed toward free agency shows how serious Texas is about making the most of this season.
“Maybe in past years it would’ve been more challenging — our organizational depth wasn’t where it is now,” Daniels said. “But we felt it was a move we have to make.
“Omar has a chance to start in the big leagues. Evan is a good, power arm.”
Wes Helms will likely become Florida’s regular third baseman.