CLEVELAND (AP) — Justin Masterson began the season as the Indians’ ace. He’ll end it with a different team in a different league.
Cleveland traded the disappointing Masterson on Wednesday to the St. Louis Cardinals, a deal that will allow the Indians to get something in return for the 29-year-old righty who was in his final year under contract.
“I was surprised,” Masterson said. “It’s bittersweet. I’m sad to leave the fellas and the fight we’re making here in Cleveland, but I’m excited to get to St. Louis and be a part of what they have going there.”
In exchange for Masterson, who was scheduled to come off the disabled list later this week, the Indians got outfielder James Ramsey. A first-round pick by the Cardinals (No. 23 overall) in 2012, Ramsey has spent this season at Double-A Springfield, where he batted .300 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs.
Masterson went 14-10 last season and then turned down an offer of a contract extension in spring training.
“It’s an extraordinarily difficult day for us,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s one that made sense.”
Masterson is 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts this season and has had a noticeable loss in velocity. In five starts before being placed on the DL with right knee inflammation, he allowed 19 runs and 27 hits in 18 innings.
Masterson said the impending free agency didn’t affect his performance.
“I guess I could try and blame that, but that would be a lie,” he said.
The Cardinals are in the race for the NL Central crown, a season after going to the World Series.
Masterson was acquired by the Indians at the trading deadline in 2009 in the deal that sent catcher Victor Martinez to Boston. Before Tuesday’s series opener against Seattle, Masterson said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Indians made any moves before the trade deadline Thursday.
Masterson had said he was hoping to stay and help them make a playoff push.
Indians manager Terry Francona was Boston’s manager when Masterson was dealt to Cleveland.
“The hug was a little longer than normal,” Francona said. “We may part teams, but my admiration for him isn’t parting.”
Joked Masterson: “Tito keeps trading me away. What’s up with that?”
The trade of Masterson could be followed by other moves by the Indians, who entered Wednesday 6 1-2 games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central and in a scramble with five other teams for the league’s second wild-card spot.
Masterson went 48-61 with Cleveland. He expects to join the Cardinals in the next day or two and said he might start a game this weekend.