After the Cleveland Indians failed to ink 2013 All-Star, Justin Masterson, to a contract extension prior to the season, the writing was on the wall for an eventual trade before the deadline. Add in the fact that Masterson started the season 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA before heading to the 15-day disabled list on July 8 with a knee injury, and Wednesday’s trade should not really be a shock to Indians fans.
Nevertheless, the trade of the former ace of their pitching staff (according to some) has been met with mixed reviews. As reported, Masterson was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for one of their top prospects, 24-year old James Ramsey.
On paper, the acquisition of the left-handed hitting Ramsey looks like a good one for the Indians. Spending the whole season in Double-A Springfield, Ramsey was hitting .300 with 14 doubles, 13 home runs, 36 RBI and 31 walks. The rest of his stat line read an OBP of .389, SLG of .527 and OPS of .916.
Shortly after breaking the news of the trade, Peter Gammons tweeted out a pretty positive review of the newly acquired Ramsey. Gammons tweeted, “James Ramsey is a great get for Cleveland. Smart, leader, great attitude, hand/eye coordination.”
Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com also had good things to say about Ramsey. He stated, “He (Ramsey) was recently ranked by MLB.com as the sixth best prospect in the team’s system and is regarded for his strong bat, speed and ability to play both center field and right field.” For those of you who have been paying attention this season, a right-fielder with a strong bat and speed would be an absolute upgrade to the David Murphy/Ryan Raburn platoon.
However, it wasn’t all positive reviews for the Indians after the trade.
Former Buckeye State Sports writer, and ESPN Blogger, Joe Werner wasn’t exactly as high on Ramsey as others. Though he did say the Indians got more for Masterson than he thought they would, he projected Ramsey as a “fourth outfielder-type.”
Werner broke down the deal in a conversation by stating, “In a nutshell, there’s some good and some bad with this deal. The Indians sold Masterson at his absolute lowest point – he’s just coming off the DL, has been absolutely horrendous this season, and has seen a 3-mph drop on his fastball. Plus, he’s essentially a two-month rental for the Cards. The good: they actually got some future big league value back from St. Louis. I just don’t think that comes in the form of anything more than a solid role player.”
Obviously that is just a snippet of Werner’s thoughts on the deal at this time, so make sure to check out his more in-depth article over at Beyond the Box Score in the coming days. Meanwhile if you need some validation of his writing you can check out his article this month on ESPN or the article he wrote for us which correctly predicted the pitcher you see today in Corey Kluber.
Alright, enough about Joe, back to Ramsey.
At 24-years old, it is slightly concerning that Ramsey has yet to make it to the big leagues, but there is a reason why. The likes of Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Jon Jay have been manning the outfield for the past few years, which is why it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Until this season, the lowest batting average out of the three dating back to the 2010 season was Jay’s .276 last year. For a team that is routinely in the running for a World Series title, it is easy to see that their extremely deep and solid foundation in the outfield is a big reason why.
For the Indians, this could be the first of many moves before the deadline. According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, “Sources: Indians have discussed Asdrubal Cabrera with Blue Jays and Giants this week. Not clear if either deal is viable now.”
Morosi wasn’t the only one tweeting Indians rumors after the Masterson deal, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports also got in on the fun. Rosenthal tweeted, “#Marlins on Lackey, per @jonmorosi. #Indians believed to be (Francona reunion?). Two teams that are not, per sources: #Angels #Brewers.”
If the Indians are truly in on Boston starter John Lackey, he would be an excellent replacement for Masterson in the rotation. Lackey is currently 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA on the season, and has been pitching very well with a WHIP of 1.23—which falls between Great (1.10) and Above Average (1.25).
With the Indians tip-toeing the line between contender and pretender as July comes to a close, it is nice to see the team actively making moves to better their roster at the deadline.
Though trading Masterson at the deadline will be viewed as “selling,” it was actually a deal that needed to happen and one that could open up further trades for the team. If there is an outfielder in their system another team has an eye on, acquiring Ramsey allows them to move that player without causing a depth issue in the system.
As Masterson departs, the next player to keep an eye on is shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. With rumors of the Blue Jays and Giants both having interest, do not be surprised if the Indians front office makes another move to get something for a player that can hit the free agent market after the season.