Cairo looked to be a fixture in Tampa Bay after guarding the keystone for the first three years of the Devil Rays’ existence. His batting average improved each year he was there, and he set the team record for stolen bases with 28 in 2000. Cairo’s sure arm and wide range translated into some flashy plays, but he sometimes flubbed the easy ones, and he collected six errors in the first two weeks of the 2000 campaign. Criticism from GM Chuck LaMar and manager Larry Rothschild about his fielding and his inability to take walks or move runners along wrecked his confidence and Cairo’s average dropped from .295 in 1999 to .261 in 2000.
Worried that an arbitrator would turn Cairo into a millionaire, the Rays let him go in favor of youngster Brent Abernathy. After signing with the A’s in January 2001, Cairo was traded to the Chicago Cubs, who moved him to third, and then was dealt mid-season to the St. Louis Cardinals. A full-time utilityman, Cairo filled in at third, second and in the outfield while batting .290 in 155 at-bats.