2014 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

The St. Louis Cardinals Acquire Justin Masterson From the Cleveland Indians

The St. Louis Cardinals acquired right-handed starting pitcher Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Double-A outfielder James Ramsey today, according to Peter Gammons.

An addition to the Cardinals pitching staff has been anticipated for some time now, but many assumed they’d be trying to make a bigger splash with names like David Price and Jon Lester having been linked to them as of late. As of now, it appears as if the Cardinals’ brass balked at the steep cost of those starters — unwilling to part with the likes of Oscar Taveras, Carlos Martinez or Stephen Piscotty — and settled on the veteran sinkerballer, Masterson.

In Masterson, the Cardinals grab a middle-to-backend of the rotation inning-eater — Masterson dished 180+ innings in each of the past four years in Cleveland — that owns a career 4.16 ERA (3.83 FIP) and a measly 9.9% K-BB%. In 19 starts this season for the Indians, Masterson was 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA (4.08 FIP) and an 8.2% K-BB% before landing on the shelf with a bum knee. The right-hander’s velocity is down a few ticks on each of his offerings this season, but there could be a correlation between his unhealthy lower half and the dip in his zip.

Masterson is expected to make his first start with the Cardinals in St. Louis against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday. The lanky hurler is on the books for $9.8M this season, but will be able to walk come year’s end. He should be motivated to drive his value back to where it stood in 2013 so he can get a fair payday this coming offseason.

Headed back to Cleveland in exchange for Masterson is Double-A outfielder James Ramsey. Ramsey, the Cardinals first-round pick in 2012, was listed as the eighth-best organizational prospect entering the 2014 season by Baseball America. Baseball America then bumped him up to the seventh slot during their midseason prospect rankings shuffle. John Sickels listed Ramsey as the eleventh-best prospect in the Cardinals organization and suggested that the former Florida State Seminole “profiles as a solid fourth outfielder.” Gammons called Ramsey a “great get for Cleveland. He’s smart, he’s a leader, has a great attitude and boasts great hand-eye coordination.”

In 67 games with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals of the Texas League this season, Ramsey posted a .300/.389/.527 slash line with 12 doubles, 14 home runs, 36 RBI and four stolen bases. He drew just 31 free passes (12.7% BB%) and has struck out 66 times this year (23.5% K%).

For fantasy purposes, the move to the National League gives Justin Masterson a slight bump for the rest of the season. While he won’t propel your team to a lead in the strikeout or ratio categories, he should be able to provide your fake team with a few wins and modest strikeout totals. If his knee can hold up, Masterson should be given consideration in 12-team and deeper leagues. For those in NL-Only formats, a healthy FAAB bid should be considered, but I’d hold onto my wallet until we learn the fate of David Price and Jon Lester first. Ramsey could be considered in AL-Only formats, but nothing more.

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