An original pick (34th round) of the Devil Rays in their first-ever draft in 1996, Wheeler emerged as a key reliever only after joining the Astros in 2004–and that was after he’d been discarded by the Braves and Mets. Wheeler played a key role in two Houston playoff teams in 2004 and 2005, and has functioned at times as Brad Lidge’s replacement at closer. Wheeler, 29, pitches in the low- to mid-90s and offers a plus splitter as his strikeout pitch.
After being given up for dead by the Pirates in December 2005, Wigginton, who was drafted as a second baseman by the Mets in 1998 (17th round), latched on with the Devil Rays and gave them his two finest seasons. Wigginton hit .275/.330/.498 with 24 homers for Tampa Bay in 2006, and was batting .275/.329/.458 with 16 bombs at the time of the trade. But the numbers alone don’t comprise the sum of his value. The 29-year-old Wigginton offers the ability to play first, second or third base as well as the outfield corners, making him a versatile offensive weapon.
Like Scott Linebrink, whom the Brewers acquired last week, Wheeler was one of the NL’s very best set-up men from 2004-2006, but had struggled through the season’s first four months. He gives Tampa Bay‘s beleaguered bullpen a huge lift, though, just as Wigginton fills a vital role for the Astros’ flagging offense. Houston has gotten shockingly little from third baseman Morgan Ensberg this season, and the club has indicated that it envisions Wigginton as a regular at the hot corner.