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Tampa Bay RaysEdit
Cantú was spotted by a scout while playing in a Junior Olympic tournament in Mexico City while in high school, and offered a contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at age 16. In 2003, Cantú played for the Mexican national team in the regional Olympic qualifying tournament. His team defeated the U.S. team, eliminating them from the 2004 summer games in Athens.
In 2005, Cantú began the season expecting to play a utilityman role, but due to the retirement of second baseman Roberto Alomar during spring training, he became the full-time second baseman. He took the opportunity to showcase his talents, having a massive breakout year, being named the Devil Rays Most Valuable Player by Tampa Bay sportswriters, after hitting .289 with 28 home runs, 117 RBI, 40 doubles, and 171 hits in 150 games (80 at second base, 63 at third). Cantú exceeded the expectations of many fans and members of the media, and he was a valuable young player for the rebuilding Devil Rays, who finished last in the American League last season.
In 2006 however, he had a down year as he struggled with injuries. His production from the previous year dropped rapidly as he hit just .249 with 14 home runs and 62 RBI.
The following season, he failed to make the Opening Day 25-man roster for 2007, and was assigned instead to the Triple-A Durham Bulls. He threatened not to report, and demanded a trade. However, on the April 4, 2007 edition of ESPN's Baseball Tonight, Cantú retracted his trade demand and stated he would voluntarily report to Durham. He hit just .207 with zero home runs and 4 RBI in just 25 games with Tampa Bay that year.
On July 28, 2007 Cantú was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with outfielder Shaun Cumberland for pitchers Brian Shackelford and Calvin Medlock. With the Reds, he hit .298 with 1 home run and 9 RBI. During the 2007 season, he played primarily first base (as opposed to second base) as he played 21 games at first base, 2 game at second base and 1 game at third base (combined with Tampa Bay and Cincinnati). The Reds released him during the offseason on December 5 of that year.
On January 4, 2008, the Florida Marlins signed Cantú to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. On March 22, Jose Castillo was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants, opening the door for a possible roster spot for Cantú. Cantu was added to the active roster on March 27. Cantu impressed the Marlins so much during spring training that he was named the team's starting third baseman. He spent the season hitting third in the Marlins lineup. On September 12, Cantu hit his 25th home run of the season joining Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, and Mike Jacobs as the first group of infielders on the same team to have 25 or more home runs. Cantu finished the year with a career high 29 home runs, 95 RBI, and a .277 batting Average.
In the offseason Cantu signed a 1-year, $4.5 million contract, avoiding arbitration. After spring training 2009, the Marlins announced that they would shift Cantu to first base after Gaby Sanchez struggled in the spring, and Emilio Bonifacio would play third base.
Cantú's left wrist was injured during the third game of the 2009 season and he was forced to miss five games. He played well after returning to the lineup despite lingering pain. On May 4, he was named the National League "Player of the Week" for the first time in his career.
|NL Player of the Week|
April 27-May 3, 2009