Cardinals pick up Masterson from Indians

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired RHP Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for 2012 first round pick OF James Ramsey, the clubs announced today.

Masterson, 29, has struggled through his contract year with a 5.05 ERA and 4-6 record in 19 starts. He is currently on the disabled list with knee inflammation and was scheduled to return to the Indians for a Friday start, but that will be scratched and he is scheduled for a Saturday start with the Cardinals.

His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is 4.08 this season, indicating that pitching in front of the St. Louis defense may improve his overall results. Walks have been a problem for him this season too, allowing 1.5 more walks per nine innings than his career average, however he’s been able to maintain his 0.6 HR/9 rate. Obviously the Cardinals see something out of Masterson who was an All Star pitcher in 2013 with 14 wins and a 3.45 ERA.

The Cardinals are sending back outfield prospect James Ramsey. Ramsey, 24, was selected 23rd overall by the Cardinals in the 2012 draft as a senior out of Florida State University. After a breakout season last year, Ramsey has backed it up this year and was hitting .300 with 13 home runs in 67 games for Double-A Springfield.

However, Ramsey was part of a logjam of outfield prospects and if you ranked them, probably would be on the lower end of the list behind guys like Oscar Taveras, Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, and Thomas Pham.

Overall the deal brings in someone who should be able to provide innings for the pitching staff. However, my complaint hasn’t really been eating innings to the rest of the season. I believe our current rotation can get us to the playoffs, however, I openly question their ability to be reliable once we get there. Any move in the starting rotation should be more heavily geared towards strengthening the odds of winning in the postseason, which this move doesn’t do. I’m not even sure if Masterson is good enough to crack a four-man October rotation with Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, and Carlos Martinez. And that’s even if Michael Wacha doesn’t return in time to pitch.

Several media sources are reporting that a high-ranking Cardinals’ official says that the team is still in on David Price and Jon Lester and that this deal doesn’t take them off the market. I can only hope it’s true. This is a move that makes some sense if you’re making major moves to upgrade the rotation that includes dealing Miller (rumored trade candidate). By itself, it’s a project pickup by John Mozeliak and historically those haven’t turned out well for him.