The Cardinals, Padres, and Indians completed a complicated three-team deal today. Starter Jake Westbrook and Padres prospect Nick Greenwood go to the Cardinals, the Padres get Ryan Ludwick, and the Indians get prospect Corey Kluber. The Indians will send cash to the Cardinals and some cash to the Padres, but they still save money in the deal, according to Indians vice president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti. The trade needed union approval, as Westbrook reduced the $2MM trade bonus in his contract. Westbrook has yet to pocket about $3.9MM of his $11MM salary for 2010.
The Cardinals' interest in Westbrook had been known for a while, as they've been dealing with injuries to Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse. Westbrook has a 4.65 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, and 53.3% groundball rate this season. He had Tommy John surgery in June of '08, and wasn't healthy until this year.
The Indians discussed the deal late into the night, partly because of Westbrook’s trade assignment bonus. The right-hander co-operated with the Indians when it came to the bonus, partly because he missed time with injuries.
“I didn’t really feel like I honored the contract as much as I would have liked to have,” Westbrook said.
The Cardinals should have their new starter in short order, as Westbrook will now head to St. Louis. He would be open to returning to the Indians after the season, when he becomes a free agent. For now, he says he’s looking forward to joining a team in the pennant race.
“I’m excited to go to a club contending for a playoff spot and pitch in some meaningful ballgames,” Westbrook said.
Ludwick was not known to be available, but perhaps the strong play of Jon Jay swayed the Cardinals. The 32-year-old Ludwick has settled at a level between his stellar '08 and disappointing '09 seasons. He's under team control for next year, so the Padres will step up and pay his potential $8MM salary for 2011. The Padres designated recently-acquired Quintin Berry for assignment to make room for Ludwick.
Kluber, 24, has a 3.45 ERA in AA with 10.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. The Padres selected the right-hander in the fourth round of the 2007 draft and have eased him through the minor leagues. In 122.2 innings this season, the 6'4" starter has allowed just 121 hits. Antonetti says the Indians like Kluber's four pitch mix and low-90s fastball, but he doesn't like trading away veteran players.
“We don’t like doing these deals," Antonetti said. "We want to be on the other end of them.”
The Padres selected Greenwood in the 14th round of last year's draft and he's now pitching at A ball. The 22-year-old lefty has a 4.15 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 as a starter in the Midwest League.
Tom Krasovic of AOLFanHouse, Joel Sherman of the New York Post, ESPN.com's Buster Olney, Dan Hayes of the North County Times, Jon Heyman of SI.com and Bob Nightengale of USA Today all contributed to the story as it broke on Twitter. MLBTR gathered all the above quotes.