Cantu trade affects Wigginton; O's may stay put now
By Dan Connolly
Jul 30, 2010 | 9:53 AM
With all of the news surrounding the Orioles on Thursday, one major happening may have gotten lost.
The Florida Marlins dealt third baseman Jorge Cantu to the Texas Rangers for two minor leaguers. It wasn't exactly a headline-grabber outside of Miami and Dallas, but it will be felt in Baltimore.
With Cantu, a right-handed power bat going to Texas to play first base, the Rangers no longer are pursuing Wigginton.
That's significant, because the Orioles' brass has long viewed Texas as the best fit for a Wigginton trade. The Rangers have one of the best farm systems in baseball, have three highly regarded minor league shortstops (and one young one in the majors) and were the most aggressive involving Wigginton.
There are some others who have showed interest in Wigginton, but no one willing to meet the Orioles' current price. That could change – by one side or the other – before Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline, but Wigginton is no longer a slam-dunk to be moved.
One of the reasons the Orioles were more comfortable in dealing Miguel Tejada (to the San Diego Padres for a minor league pitcher) than Wigginton is that the organization has an obvious fill-in for Tejada at third in Josh Bell, whom the club wants to evaluate in the second half.
Brandon Snyder, the club's projected first baseman of the future, has struggled at Triple-A and isn't deemed ready for the majors. The Orioles could move Luke Scott or Jake Fox to first base for the remainder of the season or call up a guy like Michael Aubrey or Rhyne Hughes if Wigginton were dealt. But there is no pressing need to open first base for any of those players like there was with Bell.
Plus, the Orioles like Wigginton's hard-charging attitude and the way he instructs the young guys and he isn't making much – in industry standards – so there's little point of a salary dump.
Andy MacPhail wouldn't go into specifics, but he said Thursday that dealing Tejada didn't affect whether the club would trade Wigginton.
"I think we are still going to be guided by what is in our best long-term interest," MacPhail said. "I don't think the two are related."
If I had to handicap which Orioles players still may be moved by the deadline, my order would be this: Wigginton, lefty Will Ohman, Scott. But I don't anticipate anything, honestly.
I have been told that a Jeremy Guthrie trade is now a near impossibility based on the way he has pitched recently and on how poorly the rest of the rotation has fared. Throw in the fact that Guthrie is under club control for two more seasons after this one, and the Orioles would have to be blown away to deal Guthrie. And it's highly unlikely that a contending team would go to such lengths to land the right-hander.
The Orioles continue to talk with other clubs about Wigginton and Ohman, who will be free agents, and to a lesser extent Scott. But my guess – and it's an educated guess, but not much more – is that Tejada may be the only non-waiver trade deadline casualty.
Here's what MacPhail said when asked Thursday evening about the likelihood of more trades:
"I don't really have anything that is close at the present time. It would have to be something that would be a relatively new discussion," MacPhail said. "We have no shortage of discussions, but at the present time, the only thing that came to fruition was Tejada."
That, as we have been reminded by MacPhail many times in the past, can always change with one phone call.