ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays cleared up any doubts about who will play first base in 2012, when Carlos Pena came into the fold last week. In the aftermath of that move, the club traded first baseman Russ Canzler to the Indians on Tuesday in exchange for cash considerations.
Canzler, who had been an outside candidate to play first for the Rays this season, was designated for assignment on Friday after Tampa Bay signed infielder Jeff Keppinger to a one-year pact. That sequence of events opened the door for Tuesday's trade.
"Obviously, I've been on a roller coaster the past couple of days after getting designated and being unsure of my future," Canzler said. "Then this today, and it looks like a really good opportunity with the Indians."
Canzler, 25, signed with the Rays as a Minor League free agent prior to the 2011 season. He spent the season at Triple-A Durham and earned International League Most Valuable Player honors after hitting .314 with 18 homers, 40 doubles and 83 RBIs in 131 games. He also posted a .401 on-base percentage and a .530 slugging percentage.
Canzler, who appeared in three September games with the Rays last season, has hit .280 with 84 homers and 405 RBIs over 738 Minor League games, spanning eight years.
"I have the utmost respect for the Rays," Canzler said. "They were the first team I went to the Major Leagues with, so they will always have a special place in my heart. I'm sad to leave the Rays, but happy for the opportunity I have with Cleveland."
The Cubs originally selected Canzler in the 30th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. Over the past two seasons in the Minors, he has developed into a promising slugger, launching nearly half (39) of his career home runs in that short time period.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.