Though the Brewers have, so far, been quiet as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, they have been affected indirectly as two division rivals have made deals to strengthen their starting rotations.
The Cardinals have made a deal with the Indians to bring Justin Masterson to the NL Central while the Cubs made a move for the future by bringing aboard Felix Doubront from the Red Sox.
St. Louis sent over outfield prospect James Ramsey in exchange for Masterson. He had been hitting extremely well in Double-A this season with a .300/.389/.527 batting line and 13 home runs. Overall, however, he has an 804 OPS in three minor league seasons due mostly to a poor 56 games in High-A to begin his professional career. John Sickels ranked Ramsey the 11th best prospect in the team's system before the season.
Masterson, meanwhile, is expected to bolster a starting staff that has been ravaged by injury. At the beginning of the season, I doubt anyone would expect the Cardinals to need a starting pitcher. With Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha out and the team not wanting Carlos Martinez in the rotation for whatever reason, they decided a deal was necessary, however.
It will be interesting to see if the Cardinals can manage to make something out of Masterson this year. He's had his ups and downs over the years as his ERA has gone from 4.70 to 3.21 to 4.93 to 3.45 to 5.51 over the last five years. He's been done in primarily by his lack of control (5.14 BB/9) in 2014. If the Cardinals get good Justin Masterson, it's a great trade. If he continues to pitch as he has in 2014, he'll hurt them more than help them.
Meanwhile, another unexpected move is the Cubs buying a player at the deadline. They have been in last all season long, but the acquisition of Doubront makes a lot of sense moving forward. Chicago will be on the rise soon with a bigtime crop of prospects, but most of those guys are hitters. The Cubs have few viable pitching options in the long term.
Doubront can help fix that, though. He's struggled a lot this year with an ERA over 6.00, but should be given the opportunity to start full time in Chicago, a role which he has reportedly wanted. He has a career 4.82 ERA, but has always been well-regarded despite that. Doubront won't be an ace, but he can be a solid guy to round out a rotation. He's also under team control through 2017, which will help keep the Cubs' financials under control after they go out and sign Jon Lester and Max Scherzer in the offseason.
The Red Sox will receive a player to be named later in return.
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