June 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Billy Beane, St. Louis Cardinals, Transactions
Three way trades rarely happen in Major League Baseball. They just don’t. They do in the NBA, but not in MLB. But they’re not prohibited and they’re not completely un-heard of. Take the Mike Hampton trade for example (OK, so bad example to try to convince Braves fans that a 3-way trade is worth doing). Or the Jason Bay trade (OK, another bad example). Point is, they exist.
Since we’re on an Atlanta Braves site and I am talking about a 3-way trade, you assume I’m talking about either adding a competent corner outfielder or selling off a trade chip. I’m talking about the former. I still believe this team has a chance to win this year. Not with that worthless waste of space occupying right field, but with the other 7-10 regulars and 1 additional player. This 1 additional player is what I’m talking about.
The Cardinals acquiring Mark DeRosa is significant to this trade proposal. Not because DeRosa would’ve been a good fit for Atlanta (he’d have been OK, but not quite what I envision as an ideal piece), but because it shows the Cardinals are committed to winning now. They’re looking to contend for the World Series this season. DeRosa is a nice addition for them, but acquiring a rental means you’re looking to win now. Why stop there?
It has been well documented that the Cardinals were in pursuit of Matt Holliday. And for good reason. If the Cards are in win-now mode, Holliday is a perfect fit. They have the financial flexibility and they’re looking for a bat to protect Pujols. Matt Holliday would make not only make the Cardinals a virtual sure-thing for the post-season, he’d make them the favorite (or close to it behind LA and their spectacularly weak NL West schedule) to win the NLCS. The asking price on Holliday is high. It has been reported that the asking price is as high as Brett Wallace. This will likely come down as Billy Beane feels more pressure to deal Holliday as the deadline approaches (he says there’s no pressure, I’m not buying it). But still likely out of the Cardinals price range prospect-wise.
The Cardinals were reportedly willing to part with Ryan Ludwick in order to acquire Matt Holliday. I believe this is the Braves second chance (they missed the boat on the first chance) to acquire a very special player in Ryan Ludwick. The first chance occurred in the off-season when a swap of Kelly Johnson and Ryan Ludwick was rumored but never came to fruition. This was a huge mistake and should not be made again. If the Cardinals are looking to acquire Matt Holliday and they’re willing to part with Ludwick for him, the Braves should get involved sending prospects to Oakland to help the Cardinals acquire Ludwick. Something like Cardinals get 1 piece of bullpen help and Matt Holliday, Oakland gets two 1st-3rd round talent level prospects in the low minors (the equivalent of what Beane would get in the draft without the task of signing his draft picks while saving money by unloading Matt Holliday), and Atlanta gets Ryan Ludwick and cash.
Ludwick is currently experiencing a slump. Since returning from the disabled list, he’s hit .180/.260/.292 with 3 HR. A drastic change from his .274/.339/.538 pre-DL. Injuries have been a problem for Ludwick throughout his career and I have to believe that injuries are currently causing his slump. But Ludwick has shown the ability to post monster numbers when healthy, hitting .299/.375/.591 with 37 HR in 2008 hitting line drives 28% of the time (down to 17% this season, I blame the injury). A healthy Ryan Ludwick would certainly make the Atlanta Braves a competitive team. And even a not-healthy Ludwick isn’t that much of a downgrade from Jeff Francoeur.
Atlanta and St. Louis have the pieces to pry Holliday from Oakland and the thought of Holliday in St. Louis is enough to pry Ludwick from Oakland. Would the Cardinals be interested in Kelly Johnson still (he’s also slumping, a buy low sell low proposition)? Or would we be looking at providing a bullpen arm and a prospect (ala. Manny Acosta and Craig Kimbrell or the like)?
Bottom line, if the Cardinals are still serious about acquiring Matt Holliday and they’re still interested in moving Ludwick in the process, Frank Wren should ensure Ludwick ends up in Atlanta, not Oakland.