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 bat for the playoff push, acquiring Cantu from the Florida Marlins on Thursday for two minor league pitchers.
For Cantu, this ends more than a week of wondering whether he would be staying or leaving at the trade deadline. Still, shaking hands and saying goodbye to the teammates he’s grown to love during three seasons in South Florida was bittersweet.
“Deep inside I’m very sad to leave the Marlins, of course,” Cantu said. “My turn is to go right now to the Texas Rangers 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. … There’s still two months to go. I know what I’m capable of doing.”
Cantu had two singles, scored twice and made an error in the Marlins’ 5-0 win at San Francisco before being replaced on defense in the bottom of the eighth.
“It was finalized within 30 seconds of the last out today,” Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest said.
After Beinfest told Cantu of the trade, the infielder spoke briefly by phone with Rangers GM Jon Daniels. Cantu is set to meet the team in Anaheim on Friday morning.
Texas acquired pitcher Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners earlier this month.
Cantu hit .262 with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs for Florida. The Rangers already have All-Star Michael Young at third base — Cantu said in recent days he was prepared to switch back to his former spot at first base, a position of need for the Rangers.
Cantu’s arrival will help a club that just placed All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler on the disabled list with a strained groin.
Unlike many Marlins trades, this one wasn’t about dumping salary. Cantu’s 16 errors were concerning for a club that has struggled on defense. He also can become a free agent after the season.
Despite the mixed emotions, Cantu is ready for a fresh start after all the speculation he was on the trading block.
“I had a good feeling something was going to happen,” he said. “I really wanted to win here for the Marlins. It is a good relief because it was lingering around in my head for about a week. I tried not to think about it.”
The Rangers sent Double-A right-handers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda to Florida. Texas also receives cash in the deal.
Cantu’s defense has been shaky of late and the Marlins didn’t consider him part of their long-term plans.
“Jorge has been fantastic but he is a would-be free agent,” Beinfest said. “We wanted to extract value for him now. We did not have plans to offer him a contract or arbitration this winter so we wanted to try to get value now for him.”
Wes Helms will likely become Florida’s regular third baseman. Beinfest said the Marlins also want to get a long look at outfielder Logan Morrison, called up Tuesday when left fielder Chris Coghlan went on the disabled list.
Poveda, someone the Marlins have tried to acquire in the past, is recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery but expected to be ready by spring training. He will rehabilitate in Jupiter, Fla.
Reed will report to Double-A Jacksonville, but is someone considered on the fast track to reach the big leagues.
AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Miami contributed to this story.