The Ryan Ludwick Trade: San Diego’s Perspective

In a surprising move, the Padres have pried outfielder Ryan Ludwick away from the Cardinals as part of a three-way deal with the Indians. In exchange, the Padres will be giving up two (currently unknown) prospects, and it appears one will go to the Indians with the other reporting to St. Louis.

Ludwick has been a hitting machine this year, raising his LD% into the 22% range, thus reaching base at a higher rate. He has kept the strikeouts in check, and is walking at the same rate he was last year. Add in a SLG% that has risen closer to .500, and you have a hitter good for a .354 wOBA. It’s not quite the .406 wOBA season he had in 2008, but it’s still good. However, transitioning to Petco poses a potential problem. But it’s not the biggest worry in the world, because even if Ludwick’s home runs decline, he should still be able to crush doubles into the gaps.

On the defensive end, Ludwick won’t kill the Padres while attempting to cover ground in spacious Petco Park. UZR has been very kind to him this year, and he projects to be a slightly above average defender going forward.

The Padres have been trying all kinds of things in right field, with six players seeing at least five games there. Will Venable has seen the biggest chunk of playing time, but his offensive game hasn’t been up to snuff. He’s a good defender, but not a player who’s on the same level of Ludwick.

Next season will be Ludwick’s final turn through arbitration, and it won’t be cheap. Ludwick’s 2011 salary will likely be around $8 million, which could make him the Padres highest paid player. He’ll be worth the money, but you have to give props to San Diego ownership for be willing to shell out the bucks to put a winning team on the field. This is a good move by the Padres, who show they are willing to spend money to win, and stay competitive in a tight NL West race.

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

19 Responses to “The Ryan Ludwick Trade: San Diego’s Perspective”

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  1. Zach Sanders says:

    Written by Dave Cameron, eh?

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  2. Poochie says:

    As a Cardinals fan, this trade makes me want to kill myself.

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  3. NM says:

    Jon Heyman says prospects to Cleveland only, I think. How does that deal make any sense for St. Louis? Without a prospect coming back, they essentially downgraded by ~1.5 wins from Ludwick to Westbrook.

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    • NM says:

      Nevermind, a minor prospect is heading to St. Louis.

      Still don’t understand the move. Its still a downgrade, no?

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      • James says:

        They’ll need a decent number 3 starter down the stretch and in the playoffs, and they must be hedging in the event Garcia starts to wear down… it doesn’t seem like a terrible move from the STL perspective, they obviously feel they can fill that corner OF spot from within.

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    • Samuel says:

      The Cardinals have adequate replacements for Ludwick in the outfield in Jon Jay and Allen Craig so the downgrade for the team won’t be that big overall, but in terms of the trade itself yeah, the value seems very out of whack.

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    • WY says:

      “Without a prospect coming back, they essentially downgraded by ~1.5 wins from Ludwick to Westbrook.”

      (1) They are getting a prospect coming back.
      (2) The “~1.5 wins” bit totally ignores context. It hurts to lose Ludwick, but there is a numbers crunch in the OF and a need for a #4 starter. If you look at it as Westbrook replacing Suppan or Hawksworth and Jay (possibly along with Allen Craig) taking over for Ludwick, I would bet it’s pretty close to a wash. Plus, Ludwick will be expensive next year, and they would have likely needed to trade him in the offseason to free up money (and space in the OF).

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  4. SurfinYouSay says:

    At least now the Cardinals will stop benching Rasmus every other game.

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  5. padres rock says:

    Padres get:

    Cards get:
    Nick Greenwood(Really good drafted 14th round last year)

    Indians get:
    Kluber(in my eyes his ceiling is a 4 starter but could be a #2 if your lucky)

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  6. Jon S. says:

    So Cleveland traded Westbrook for so-so SP prospect. That’s not super great. The Padres traded two iffy prospects for a year and a half of Ludwick. That’s awesome.

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    • WY says:

      Cleveland also sheds some payroll. The Padres certainly made out well, but Ludwick will be expensive (by Padre standards) next year. I wouldn’t be surprised to Ludwick get traded again in the offseason.

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      • maestro876 says:

        They wouldn’t have made this move if they didn’t intend to keep Ludwick. All they’ve said this season is anyone major they pick up they want to control beyond this season. Ludwick will be a Padre in 2011.

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  7. CircleChange11 says:

    (1) What does TLR have against Rasmus? He trotted Chris Duncan out to LF, When Anky could have been in LF and Rasmus in CF. They kept in the minors and then he got hurt.

    (2) I wonder if StL will re-acquire Ludwick in the off-season? 8M for an above average RF is a good deal.

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  8. Lorenzo says:

    Kluber is a pretty good candidate for Cleveland’s rotation in two years, and they not only get reduced payroll now, they’re getting cash.

    Greenwood is a lefty with a fundamentally sound delivery, a good fastball and change, and good control of both. In three years or so, he’ll be a mid-rotation starter in St.Louis.

    It’s tough for Indians fans, but they’re clearing the decks for future growth.
    Cards fans may wonder, but they’re getting help for this year, AND a future lefty starter. The last time the Padres sent a prospect to St.Louis for a veteran outfielder, they gave up David Freese for Jim Edmonds.

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    • tommyGunZ says:

      The Padres minor league system is vastly improved, but still middle of the road overall, and Greenwood wasn’t even top 10 in the system. Projecting him as a mid-rotation starter in 3 years is an optimistic projection at the very least.

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  9. CircleChange11 says:

    I hope Ludwick does well in SD, given his career path, he’s easy to root for.

    Interesting that there’s a chance SD and StL could meet in the LDS.

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  10. algionfriddo says:

    So what does this do to Venable? Will the Pads platoon Denorfia (lf) and S. Hariston (cf) vs LHP and then go Venable (lf) and Gwynn (cf)? Denorfia has been good vs RHP but not so much vs LHP. S. Hairston has been good vs LHP but poor vs RHP. Gywnn just hasn’t hit. Hopefully they with go with Venable in CF over Gwynn. Stairs may be cut.

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    • James says:

      I think they are going to hold onto Stairs, he’ll be handy in the playoffs when the rosters expand. Denorfia’s play is probably more of a fluke than an indication of his future performance… one of those guys that is probably better platooning (same can be said about Hairston – always seemed to play better when he’s not playing every day). Venable needs to make contact. Gwynn’s BABIP is really low (expected BABIP calculator said it should be about .320, currently at .250)… he still gets on base and plays better defense than the other guys….

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  11. candomarty says:

    As a Cardinals fan, I thought this was a good trade for everybody. First,the Padres got Ludwick, who is one of the most underrated players in the league on…defense. Yes, defense. He’s an outstanding right fielder, but his style doesn’t get him points from the people judging such things, but don’t try to stretch a double into a triple on him; he’ll nail you. He has an above average number of outfield assists. But with Pujols’ negotiations coming up this winter, the conventional wisdom was that the Cardinals couldn’t afford Ludwick and Pujols, especially after signing Holliday. So this was inevitable. It wasn’t that the Cardinals didn’t like Ludwick–they did–but they couldn’t afford him after this year.

    Westbrook, on the other hand, was a terrific acquisition for the Cardinals because the two-man committee of washed-up Jeff Suppan and no-command Blake Hawksworth to fill the #4 and #5 spots in the rotation has been disastrous. Westbrook, a ground ball pitcher, has just the right style for the Cardinals. And the Indians got rid of some salary and a possible future starting prospect for its rotation. Could’ve been worse for everybody.

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