Despite overtures from Jorge Cantu, which the Braves gave some consideration, they decided not to pursue the free agent infielder as another piece for their bench, according to a Braves official.
Cantu is looking for an every-day job, either at first base or third, and the Braves don’t have openings at either spot. The Braves have rookie Freddie Freeman ready to take over at first base and Chipper Jones coming back from knee surgery to his old spot at third base.
Even if Jones can’t make it back healthy, the Braves prefer to use Martin Prado at third base. Prado is penciled in to start the season in left field.
If the Braves add another bench player, with likely no more than $1-2 million to invest, their greater needs are for a backup center fielder and backup shortstop.
Cantu, who turns 29 on Jan. 30, played for the Braves new manager Fredi Gonzalez as a Marlin. He has hit .274, with 101 home runs and 460 RBIs in seven seasons with the Rays, Reds, Marlins and Rangers. He was traded from the Marlins to the Rangers last July where he moved to the bench and stayed there throughout a run to the World Series.
In a published report Sunday, Cantu said he was in talks with the Braves, Padres, and Indians after his discussions ended with the Houston Astros.
“We’ve been talking to Atlanta, Houston, San Diego and Cleveland,” Cantu told the Houston Astros Examiner Saturday, while attending a charity event in Channelview, TX. “We were really trying with Houston, but talks have just ceased with them, which is unfortunate…
“Still, San Diego is talking a lot. I like San Diego. They have a winning ballclub and had a great pitching staff last year. I wouldn’t mind going over there.”
The Padres seem to provide the better fit after trading first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox. They signed Brad Hawpe to a one-year $3 million contract to play first base, but he has spent the majority of his seven major league seasons in the outfield.
Cantu hit .235 with one home run and two RBIs in 30 games with the Rangers during the regular season and went 0-for-8 in the postseason.
The Braves got to know Cantu well in his 2 ½ years with the Marlins. He hit .277 with 29 homers and 95 RBIs in 2008 and .289 with 16 home runs and 100 RBIs in 2009. He hit .262 with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs in 97 games with the Marlins last year before being traded.