Smaller swap sends Shelton to Texas
Tigers send former slugger to Rangers for outfielder Guzman
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tigers were dealing again on Wednesday, this time with a smaller swap. Detroit sent former slugging first baseman Chris Shelton to Texas in exchange for outfielder Freddy Guzman, ending one of the more mercurial careers in recent Tigers history.
Detroit selected Shelton in the Rule 5 Draft from the Pirates organization following the 2003 season, when they were looking for young talent wherever they could find it. In Shelton's case, it turned out to be a find. He had been a batting champion in the lower Minors, but hadn't shown an abundance of power until he started the 2006 season with a punch.
After beating out Carlos Pena for the starting job at first base, Shelton homered nine times in his first 13 games to start the season, making him an instant celebrity around baseball as a power hitter, when he had never been one before. He hit just .242 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs the rest of the way, and was eventually pushed out of his big league role when the Tigers acquired Sean Casey at the trade deadline.
Shelton, 27, spent the entire 2007 season at Triple-A Toledo, where he batted .269 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs. He was designated for assignment last week to help make room for Kenny Rogers and reliever Francisco Cruceta on the 40-man roster. Detroit had 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the Minors if he had passed through waivers.
Guzman, who will turn 27 next month, is a speedy center fielder who spent parts of three different seasons in the big leagues with San Diego and Texas. He batted .269 in 133 games this past season with 22 doubles, four home runs, 34 RBIs and 56 stolen bases for Triple-A Oklahoma, leading the Pacific Coast League in steals.
Guzman played in eight games for Texas as a September callup, going 1-for-6. His one base hit, however, was a pinch-hit home run leading off the ninth inning against the Tigers last Sept. 11 at Comerica Park. It was his first and, so far, only big league home run.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.