04/03/2004 5:22 PM ET
Mets trade Cedeno to St. Louis
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
|"I'm looking forward to a fresh start now," Roger Cedeno said. (Evan Vucci/AP)
JUPITER, Fla. -- Mets general manager Jim Duquette had spent the better part of the last six months trying to accommodate Roger Cedeno's trade request, but the $10 million he is owed over the next two years combined with his defensive liabilities made such a move seemingly impossible.
That was until the Cardinals stepped in. St. Louis sent catcher Chris Widger and infielder Wilson Delgado to the Mets in exchange for Cedeno and cash. New York will pick up a considerable part of Cedeno's salary after he, along with Mets ownership, agreed to restructure his contract.
"We've been trying for a little while to try and find a different spot for Roger," Duquette said. "And as spring wore on, he really played well, especially against the Cardinals. As I had conversations with them, they expressed an interest in him because their left-field situation is in flux."
Delgado will report to Triple-A Norfolk while Widger will temporarily joining the Major League club. However, New York will not carry four catchers. Widger should be sent down to Norfolk by Opening Day, clearing room for outfielder Eric Valent on the Major League roster.
The move brings to a close a trying chapter in Cedeno's career. Cedeno, who played with the Mets in 1999, returned to New York as a free agent after the 2001 season. He was penciled in as the leadoff hitter and was expected to provide the Mets with a spark at the top of the lineup.
Instead, he struggled at the plate and on the field, becoming one of the poster-boys for a series of questionable moves made by former general manager Steve Phillips. Cedeno's mental lapses on the field and on the base paths drew the ire of the New York fans. He was booed constantly at Shea Stadium and was even vilified this spring when the Mets played at Tradition Field.
Cedeno was originally signed to play left field but quickly showed he was not up to the task. The Mets then experimented with him in center field last spring but Cedeno also struggled there, eventually finding a part-time home in right field.
"I'm looking forward to a fresh start now," said Cedeno, who stole only 39 bases and hit .263 over the last two seasons. "I'll try and help St. Louis as much as I can. I have to do my job and play hard and good things will come. Everything happens for a reason. I'm looking forward to the season."
Cedeno had a solid season with the Mets in 1999 before being traded to the Astros in the deal for Mike Hampton. After hitting .282 and stealing 25 bases in Houston, he was traded to Detroit, where he hit .293 and stole 55 bases in 2001.
"It's best for both parties that Roger move on," Duquette said. "It's a chance for him to get a fresh start. He's always been successful in Midwest towns before New York. We're able to turn a page now."
Widger appeared in 44 games for the Cardinals last season, hitting .235 with 14 RBIs. He's a career .242 hitter having spent four of his eight Major League seasons with the Expos.
Delgado split last season between Anaheim and St. Louis, hitting .228 with seven RBIs. Duquette said he would serve as infield insurance at Norfolk.
Duquette added that he's still having discussions with Cleveland about disgruntled outfielder Milton Bradley but he has yet to discuss such a move with Mets ownership.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.