In a somewhat surprising move, the San Diego Padres acquired Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals as part of a three-team deal that also saw Jake Westbrook leave Cleveland for St. Louis.
Personally, its a deal I love.
Ludwick is a solid bat who instantly becomes the Padres second best hitter. His 0.354 wOBA is solidly above average, as he gets on base at a good clip (0.343 OBP), and hits with a decent amount of power (0.484 SLG).
For the rest of the season, ZiPS projects Ludwick to improve his offensive numbers slightly, but a move to Petco Park will probably dampen his unadjusted statistics.
What people might not realize about Ludwick is he is actually a pretty solid fielder. For his career, Ludwick’s UZR/150 in the outfield is 7.6 runs above average. Already this season, UZR has him at a 8.8 runs above average. A big part of the Padres success this season has been the strength of their fielding, and adding Ludwick should not change that.
Ludwick will likely take some playing time away from the likes of Will Venable and Chris Denorfia. That’s fine. Ludwick is an obvious upgrade, worth about an extra win over the remainder of the season.
In return for Ludwick, the Padres gave up minor league pitchers Nick Greenwood, who according to Keith Law: “shows no projection beyond middle reliever right now,” and Corey Kluber. Kluber leads the Texas League in strikeouts, but is already 24 years old, still in AA, and projects as a back-end of the rotation starter at best.
Salary-wise, Ludwick is being paid $5.45MM this year, and his salary is likely to increase to around $8MM-$9MM next season in arbitration, a level where there is still some surplus value.
In return for two non-impact prospects, the Padres acquired a year and a half of Ryan Ludwick. He further improves the club’s playoff chances both this year and next year, giving the team some added pop without weakening the defense. This is the exact type of trade contending teams with room to add payroll should be making.