The Rangers acquired infielder Jorge Cantu and cash considerations from the Marlins in exchange for Double-A right-handed pitchers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda on Thursday.
The move gives the Rangers a right-handed batter who can play at first base against lefties and step in for the injured Ian Kinsler at second base if needed. Kinsler was put on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin on Thursday, meaning the earliest he can return is Aug. 12.
"We feel good," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We were looking for the right-handed complement at first base, and Jorge is a guy who comes in with rave reviews from around the league."
Cantu will join the team in Anaheim on Friday. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rangers recalled pitcher Brandon McCarthy and then put him on the 60-day disabled list.
"It's a great opportunity," Cantu said. "The guys over there are playing great, and I'm just excited to join."
To make space for Cantu on the major league roster, the Rangers sent first baseman Chris Davis back to Triple-A Oklahoma City after Thursday night's game. Mitch Moreland, who was called up when Kinsler went on the DL and had two hits in his major league debut, will stick around as the left-handed hitting first baseman.
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, 28, is hitting .262 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs in 97 games this season. The McAllen, Texas, native has spent most of 2010 at third base, but has 42 at-bats at first base this season with 40 games played, seven of them starts. Cantu has played a fair number of games at first the past few seasons. He also has experience at second base, though he hasn't played the position since a few games in 2007. He started in 103 games at second base for Tampa Bay in 2006.
"This was one of the bigger holes we wanted to address," Daniels said. "I would expect most of his playing time will come at first base, but you never know."
Cantu is hitting .253 in 87 at-bats against left-handed pitching. Davis is just 4-for-27 against lefties this season.
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."
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.
"Jorge has been fantastic but he is a would-be free agent," Marlins GM Larry 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.
Reed, a reliever, has pitched in 30 games (39 innings) for Double-A Frisco and has a 1.62 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 13 walks. He's considered to be on the fast track to the big leagues. Poveda hasn't played this season and remains on the 60-day disabled list following Tommy John surgery, but he's someone the Marlins have tried to acquire in the past. He was 11-5 with a 4.14 ERA in 22 starts (130 1/3 innings) for Frisco last season and also made one start in Triple-A Oklahoma City.
"Omar has a chance to start in the big leagues," Daniels said. "Evan is a good, power arm. He might fit in the back of the bullpen one day for somebody."
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag. ESPNDallas.com intern Josh Davis and The Associated Press contributed to this report.