The St. Louis Cardinals are officially in win-now mode.
On Wednesday, the club traded center fielder Colby Rasmus and three relievers, Brian Tallet, Trever Miller and P.J. Walters, to the Toronto Blue Jays. In return, St. Louis receives starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski and outfielder Corey Patterson plus cash considerations. Because the deal required approval by Major League Baseball, the cash involved may be greater than $1 million. In addition, the Cardinals will receive three players to be named later or additional cash considerations.
Jackson, 27, is an impending free agent and Scott Boras client. Not counting Toronto, who had acquired him on Wednesday morning from the Chicago White Sox, the Cardinals will be the right-hander’s sixth major league club. He has a 55-58 career record with a 4.53 ERA. Jackson is expected to step into St. Louis’ rotation, perhaps allowing for the return of Kyle McClellan to relieving.
Rzepcynski, 25, becomes the Cardinals’ lead left-handed reliever, joining Raul Valdes. The former starter is in his first year of relieving and has a 2.97 ERA in 39 1/3 innings over 43 games. The Jays’ fifth-round pick in 2007 is the only one of the four new Cardinals assured of remaining under team control after 2011 with free agency projected in 2016.
Dotel, 37, is a well-traveled veteran who has 106 career saves, including 21 for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. One would guess the right-hander will join the set up mix for closer Fernando Salas. Dotel carries a $3.5 million option for 2012.
With the uncertainty surrounding the health of right-fielder Lance Berkman, adding a veteran outfielder in the left-handed hitting Patterson is understandable on one hand. The career .253 hitter has been a reserve in recent years, having not seen 400 at-bats in a season since 2007. The former Chicago Cub, age 31, is on his eighth team in a dozen major league seasons.
On the other hand, not receiving any named prospects in the trade could mean a four or five year gap even if 2012 compensation draft picks are added in the event of Jackson and Dotel departing after the season. The three unnamed players to be identified later may not be difference-makers.
The Cardinals were willing to part with three-plus cost-controlled years plus the career potential of a Rasmus in return for four known commodities, all lacking the upside of their former centerfielder. If the four can help lead St. Louis deep into the 2011 playoffs, the deal would seem to have short-term benefit.
Over the long haul, the view is very cloudy.
The Cardinals 40-man roster remains whole. With Tallet currently on the disabled list, a player will need to be moved off the 25-man active roster once the new players report.
Update 4 P.M. CDT Wednesday: The club has announced that Jackson will make his first Cardinals start on Friday night against the Cubs and McClellan will return to a relief role.
More! For both Colby and Tony Rasmus' reaction to the trade as well as national writers' takes on the situation, check out The Cardinal Nation Blog.
To see the entire 300-player Cardinals system by level and position on one page, bookmark the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
For subscribers: Here is the link to an assessment of the key players involved in this deal from Scout.com’s national scouting expert Frankie Piliere, "Trade Analysis: Blue Jays Win Big".
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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