This is the big deadline trade?

The Cincinnati Reds on Saturday acquired infielder Jorge Cantu for a pair of minor-league pitchers and future considerations.

Tampa Bay also sent minor league outfielder Shaun Cumberland to the Reds for righthander Calvin Medlook and lefthander Brian Shackelford.

Cantu, 25, batted .286 with 28 home runs and a club-record 117 RBI for the Devil Rays in 2005. His batting average dropped to .249 and he hit just 14 homers with 62 RBI last season.

Cantu hit just .207 with no home runs and four RBI in 25 games this year and will be optioned to Class AAA Louisville.

I really don’t know what to think about this deal. Cantu had an outstanding season at the major league level, at age 23 no less, but has been terrible since. Plus, he refuses to take a walk. And his minor league numbers look pretty bad.

I guess he’s worth taking a flyer on — the Reds really gave up little in exchange — but Devil Ray fans are happy to see the guy go. If you read this description of Cantu (from a Devil Rays blog that I read occasionally), he sounds a lot like Danny Graves, i.e., he plays awful and blames everyone else.

We’ll see, I guess. My worry is that Cantu is the Reds next third baseman after they trade Edwin Encarnacion for crappy middle relievers.

UPDATE: Check out Justin’s analysis here. Be sure to read the entire post for a great breakdown of the trade, but here’s the conclusion:

I don’t see much of anything to be excited about with Cumberland, so Cantu is the only booty here. And the most attractive thing about him is that he is still young, and already has shown decent performance in the major leagues in the past. So maybe he’ll somehow put it together and be a nice source of power off the bench or as a part-time starter. Unfortunately, his defense at 2B and 3B has been atrocious, which means that his future probably lies at either first base or left field. And at those positions, his power-only offense looks, at best, average…and probably well below average. Still, in a limited role, I can see him proving useful.

In terms of the cost that it took to get him, I can’t get too upset about losing Shackelford. But Medlock seems to me to be a legitimate contender for a bullpen spot next year, and goodness knows they could use some new arms out there. He still might not have made the staff out of spring training next year, but he absolutely would have represented some quality organizational depth as we opened the season.

So I don’t like this deal very much. It’s not that I hate Cantu or even that I see this as a lopsided deal in terms of the talent being exchanged. The issue I have is that Medlock is precisely the kind of player that I’d like to see the Reds hoarding right now–he’s young, clearly has some talent, and could provide a boost to the bullpen as early as next season. I’m not saying that the kid is a future closer by any means. But it won’t surprise me if he’s performing well in a middle relief or set up role in the near future. And that’s clearly something that the Reds need. Furthermore, it bugs me that this deal seems to be have moved the Reds away from, not toward, the goal of improved pitching and defense, even if only a small amount.

Good points all.