ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals got their rotation upgrade, but they did so at an enormous cost.
St. Louis acquired right-hander Jake Westbrook, long a player of interest for the Redbirds, from the Indians to bolster its starting rotation. As part of the deal, however, the Cards sent outfielder Ryan Ludwick to San Diego. St. Louis also received Minor League lefty Nick Greenwood from San Diego and cash considerations.
The cash means that the deal will have very little impact on the Cards' overall player payroll, which could allow them to make a move in August after players clear waivers. Westbrook agreed to give up part of the $2 million bonus that his contract stipulated he would receive if he were traded. It was the Cards' only deal before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, which hit at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday.
Over the next month, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. A player exposed to waivers can be claimed by any team and -- if there are multiple claims -- the player would be offered to the team with the worst record.
At that point, a team has 48 hours to either try to work out a trade with the claiming club or remove the player from waivers. A player can only be pulled back from waivers once, but if he clears waivers either the first or a second time through, a team can attempt to trade him to any club.
Westbrook, 32, is 6-7 with a 4.65 ERA in 21 starts this season. He has 73 strikeouts and 44 walks in 127 2/3 innings pitched this season, averaging just over six innings per start. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008, missing all of the '09 season. He's pitched better after a slow start, with a 4.30 ERA and 6.4 innings per start over his last 15 games.
For his career, Westbrook is 69-71 with a 4.34 ERA in 221 career appearances, including 181 starts. All but three of his career appearances have been with the Indians, who acquired him from the Yankees in 2000. He topped 210 innings for three consecutive seasons from 2004-06. He has appeared in only one postseason and is looking forward to pitching in a pennant race.
"I'm excited to go to a club contending for a playoff spot and pitch in some meaningful ballgames," he said. "That's why you play the game, for a chance to get into the playoffs, and I'm looking forward to doing that."
However, the bigger part of the deal from the St. Louis perspective may be who is leaving. Ludwick, 31, has revived his career as a member of the Cardinals since signing with the organization as a Minor League free agent in 2007. He was an All-Star in '08 and in four seasons with St. Louis has hit .280 with a .349 on-base percentage and a .507 slugging percentage.
In 2010, Ludwick has a .281/.343/.484 line with 11 home runs, 43 RBIs and 44 runs scored in 77 games. He missed nearly a month with a strained left calf, returning last weekend for the Cards' series against the Cubs.
He would be a third-year arbitration-eligible player this winter, though, which means he will almost certainly receive a significant raise for the 2011 season. Rookie Jon Jay has impressed in his first 48 games, hitting .396 and slugging .604, evidently convincing the club that he is ready for a bigger role in the short term. The deal might also open up some playing time for rookie Allen Craig, who is hitting well at Triple-A Memphis.
"I'm excited," Ludwick said. "Sad, excited, nervous, a lot of things. ... [Coming to St. Louis] jump-started my career. That's why I'm sad to leave. Management, coaching staff, players, I got along with everyone. I'm sad leaving the fans. They treated me great."
To cover the roster space on Saturday, the Cardinals recalled outfielder Nick Stavinoha from a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. Westbrook is expected to start on Monday, and at that time Blake Hawksworth will be moved to the bullpen. Craig is likely to be added to the active roster in the near future, Cards general manager John Mozeliak said.
Though the Cardinals began Saturday in first place, Mozeliak felt that the team needed a change in order to achieve its goal of playing in October. A club that got off to a hot start has achieved only in fits and starts over the past couple of months.
"The fact is, if we didn't change the current dynamics of this club right now, I couldn't envision us winning," Mozeliak said. "So one of the things that [manager Tony La Russa] and his staff discussed, and myself and the staff upstairs, was how could we do that? One of the things we all agreed on was we had to get someone to give us some quality innings and we needed that sooner than later."
So Westbrook arrives, with Kyle Lohse soon to follow. Lohse was scheduled to make a Minor League rehabilitation start on Saturday evening, and will likely make one more after that, before he rejoins the active roster. He has not pitched since May as a result of a right forearm injury.
Still, the Cardinals' offense has frustrated fans as much as the pitching staff, and in removing a central cog from the lineup, St. Louis is taking a risk. The club is betting that Jay and Craig can replicate enough of the offense from Ludwick to make the net change a beneficial one.
"In fairness, our offense was inconsistent with him," Mozeliak said. "Will it be inconsistent without him? I don't know. But we have had some success when we've had players out of the lineup. We still have a chance to get [David] Freese back in the next 10 days or so, and if that happens, that should be a jolt offensively for the club. But overall, I just felt like the way things were going offensively, it made sense."
Mozeliak declined to address the matter of whether the Cardinals might have interest in re-upping Westbrook beyond the 2010 season.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.