The Tampa Bay Devil Rays made some moves today. They traded 3B Ty Wigginton to the Houston Astros for former Ray right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler and Jorge Cantu to the Reds for Brian Shackelford. They also sent reliever Shawn Camp to AAA.
Wheeler, 30, is 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA in 45 games for the Astros. He took over as the Astros’ closer when Brad Lidge struggled earlier in the season. Wiggington was batting .275 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs. Last year, he had a career-high 24 homers and 79 RBIs.
“We’re going to need a third baseman moving forward, [Mike] Lamb is a free agent,” an Astros official told ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. “He’s a guy who’s hit 25 home runs. He’s played a lot of positions if you need him to do that.”
The Rays also traded infielder Jorge Cantu, minor league OF Shaun Cumberland, and cash to the Cincinnati Reds for reliever Brian Shackelford, minor league pitcher Calvin Medlock, and future considerations.
The Reds optioned Cantu to Triple-A Louisville.
The 25-year-old Cantu had played out his welcome in Tampa Bay after setting the Devil Rays’ single-season club record in 2005 with 117 RBIs with 28 home runs while hitting .286. He was named the team’s Most Valuable Player that season.
Last season, he hit .249 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs, and he hit .207 in 25 games with the Devil Rays this year. He was sent to the minors on July 19 and said at the time he expected he’d played his last game for Tampa Bay.
Shackelford spent parts of the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Reds. He was 0-5 in 41 relief appearances with Louisville this season. Tampa Bay also received minor league right-hander Calvin Medlock, 24, who was a combined 4-3 in 42 relief appearances with Louisville and Double-A Chattanooga. Medlock also has a career Minor League record of 29-15 and a 3.24 ERA in 164 games (41 starts) since he was drafted by the Reds in the 39th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft
The Reds also received outfielder Shaun Cumberland, who was hitting .246 with six home runs and 34 RBI for Double-A Montgomery. Cumberland was assigned to Chattanooga.
The Devil Rays have been making wholesale changes to what has been the worst bullpen in baseball. Over its last 30 innings, the bullpen has given up 44 runs.
The team added reliever Grant Balfour in a trade with the Brewers on Friday, and sent down Shawn Camp on Saturday. On Monday, they placed Jay Witasick on the 15-day disabled list, sent J.P. Howell to Triple-A Durham and called up Jason Hammel and Juan Salas from Durham.
The Rays are making some good moves. They absolutely need to improve their bullpen and they are also saving money by doing so.
Ty Wigginton, for all you fantasy leaguers, should thrive over in Houston. He will have a good park to hit in and won’t lose playing time.
Jorge Cantu can hopefully resurect his career with the Reds like former Ray Josh Hamilton.
Josh Wilson looks to get the bulk of the playing time with Wigginton getting traded. But if Baldelli comes back Upton could be moved back to 2B and Wilson will go back to the bench. One scenario I would like to see is the Rays give 3B prospect Evan Longoria a cup of coffee and see if he can be what Ryan Braun has been to the Milwaukee Brewers. That move would push Iwamura to 2B though and might not get too much consideration.
-Jonathan C. Mitchell
Information from the Associated Press and Buster Olney at ESPN.com were used in this column.
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