Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals filled a huge hole in their team, sending one-time bright prospect Chris Perez and a player to be named later to the Cleveland Indians for versatile infielder Mark DeRosa. This is a perfect trade for both teams.
In DeRosa, the Cardinals get a player who can play almost anywhere defensively, and has a solid bat. With Troy Glaus on the DL, Khalil Greene struggling mightily and Skip Schumaker still learning defensively at second, this is a big boost to the Cardinals playoff hopes. While DeRosa has struggled a bit at times this year, the big year he had with the Cubs last year bodes well for a return to the National League Central. They are currently tied with the Brewers for the division lead while boasting the top run differential. While it is difficult to imagine St. Louis competing with whoever comes out of the American League, this trade helps make the Cardinals a serious contender in the NL.
DeRosa is also not a big hit financially for the Cards, as he is in the final year of a contract that will see him collect $5 million in 2009. The Cardinals will be on the hook for a little more than half of that, and will most likely let him walk in the off-season. With the team trimming payroll this past off-season and the economic future still up in the air, it is important for them to not make any multi-year commitments.
In Perez, the Cardinals lose a former 42nd overall pick who still has the potential to be a back-end reliever, but right now has only shown himself to be an average bullpen arm. He flirted with the closer role early in the season, but blew his first and only save opportunity. His ERA sits at 4.18, and he is being killed by a painful 5.82 BB/9. This is far from an irreplaceable player for St. Louis.
Trading DeRosa was a no brainer for Cleveland. They are currently toiling in dead last in the AL with a 31-35 record, eleven games behind division leader Detroit. The season is a lost cause, and like last year with CC Sabathia, GM Mark Shapiro has shown that he is willing to unload his assets rather than lose them in the off-season.
While this was a smart trade by Cleveland, I am surprised they did receive more in return. Only five and a half months ago, Cleveland gave up three pitching prospects to acquire DeRosa from the Cubs. His value has not dropped that much even though his OPS has a bit, and there were several contenders interested in him. I thought Shapiro would be able to have a bit more of a bidding war, but in the end he needed to get a trade done or risk losing DeRosa for nothing.
This was a smart trade on the part of both GM’s, and will go a long way in helping the Cardinals bring home the NL Central title.