The Cardinals, Padres, and Indians have completed a swap that moves former All-Stars Ryan Ludwick and Jake Westbrook.
The Cardinals send Ryan Ludwick to the Padres and money to the Indians. The Padres send prospects Corey Kluber and Nick Greenwood to the Indians and Cardinals, respectively. And the Indians send Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals to complete the trade.
The Padres gain a valuable hitter in Ludwick. The corner outfielder has hit .281/.343/.484 with 11 home runs and 20 doubles. His 120 OPS+ (meaning his offense has been roughly 20 percent above league average) offers immediate improvement to the weak offense. He may not be as good as an Adam Dunn or a Lance Berkman, but he will definitely help. According to ESPN, Ludwick was eligible for free agency after this season. Baseball-Reference lists him as arbitration eligible after this year and a free agent for the year after.
This move should save the Cardinals' payroll, which they will likely need to resign Albert Pujols (a free agent after 2011). This offers a good amount of payroll relief.
Westbrook slides into a Cardinals rotation that has been ravaged by injuries. After Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and rookie Jaime Garcia, the rotation has been uncertain.
Westbrook’s stats have been below average (6-7 record, 4.65 ERA, 85 ERA+); however, the Cardinals hope pitching coach Dave Duncan can revitalize the ground-ball pitcher’s career the way he has other pitchers through the years with his pitch-to contact mentality. Westbrook is a free agent after this year.
Also of note, the emergence of Jon Jay has made Ludwick expendable. And, the Cardinals did not have to surrender a prospect from their rather weak farm system.
The Indians get out from the remainder of Westbrook’s $31 million, three-year deal, as well as a prospect to help their rebuilding process. The deal looks to address the major needs of each organization. As a Cardinals fan, I will miss Ludwick, and wish him luck in the future. However, I feel fairly optimistic about this deal.