The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to acquire starting pitcher Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians, reports Peter Gammons of MLB Network. Cleveland will receive minor league outfielder James Ramsey in the deal, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Masterson, 29, has struggled with the Indians this season to the tune of a 5.51 ERA over 19 starts, yet is just one year removed from making the AL All-Star team. He's a tall, durable pitcher who relies on a strong sinker to induce grounders and limit home runs, but woeful command has derailed him somewhat over the past few months.
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Cards and Justin Masterson are a fascinating pair
Justin Masterson and his big sinker are going to a team that's traditionally in love big sinkers.
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Originally acquired by Cleveland in 2009 as part of the deal that sent Victor Martinez to Boston, Masterson quickly established himself as one of the Indians' steadiest pitchers. In 2011, his second full year with the team, he posted a 3.16 ERA over 216 innings, proving to be a weapon with his strong GB/FB rates.
Even now, Masterson remains adept at keeping the ball on the ground, as his 2.81 GB/FB ratio would actually represent a career-high. However, increased walk and line drive rates have undermined that improvement, and his bottom line performance has suffered as a result.
Given those issues, the Indians were likely hesitant to make Masterson a qualifying offer this offseason, making him a logical trade candidate. When the Cardinals came offering Ramsey, a 2012 first-round pick who's playing well in Double-A this season, that was apparently enough to pull the trigger.
Masterson makes sense for St. Louis, too, given that a change of scenery -- and move to the National League -- could do wonders for the right-hander. We've seen what the Cardinals have done with struggling veteran starters in the past, and Masterson certainly isn't too far gone that he cannot be saved.
While Masterson isn't exactly an ace, his addition could have some impact on the Cardinals' current pursuit of high-level pitchers. Someone like David Price or Cliff Lee would obviously add a dynamic that Masterson cannot match, but now St. Louis doesn't need to be nearly as desperate given the reinforcements it's already added.
Ramsey is a decent get for Cleveland, but his pedigree and statistics don't quite match the reality. It's certainly impressive that he's hitting .300/.389/.527 for Double-A Springfield this season, but he was repeating the level, his tools generally underwhelm, and at 24 years old, he's likely not going to make massive improvements from here. Minor League Ball rated him as the Cardinals' No. 11 prospect entering the season, and he remains a solid mid-tier addition for Cleveland.