In a surprising move, the Padres have pried outfielder Ryan Ludwick away from the Cardinals as part of a three-way deal with the Indians. In exchange, the Padres will be giving up two (currently unknown) prospects, and it appears one will go to the Indians with the other reporting to St. Louis.
Ludwick has been a hitting machine this year, raising his LD% into the 22% range, thus reaching base at a higher rate. He has kept the strikeouts in check, and is walking at the same rate he was last year. Add in a SLG% that has risen closer to .500, and you have a hitter good for a .354 wOBA. It’s not quite the .406 wOBA season he had in 2008, but it’s still good. However, transitioning to Petco poses a potential problem. But it’s not the biggest worry in the world, because even if Ludwick’s home runs decline, he should still be able to crush doubles into the gaps.
On the defensive end, Ludwick won’t kill the Padres while attempting to cover ground in spacious Petco Park. UZR has been very kind to him this year, and he projects to be a slightly above average defender going forward.
The Padres have been trying all kinds of things in right field, with six players seeing at least five games there. Will Venable has seen the biggest chunk of playing time, but his offensive game hasn’t been up to snuff. He’s a good defender, but not a player who’s on the same level of Ludwick.
Next season will be Ludwick’s final turn through arbitration, and it won’t be cheap. Ludwick’s 2011 salary will likely be around $8 million, which could make him the Padres highest paid player. He’ll be worth the money, but you have to give props to San Diego ownership for be willing to shell out the bucks to put a winning team on the field. This is a good move by the Padres, who show they are willing to spend money to win, and stay competitive in a tight NL West race.