St. Louis Cardinals: Historical finds on the Waiver Wire

CHICAGO - MAY 30: Ryan Ludwick #47 of the St. Louis Cardinals runs against the Chicago Cubs on May 30, 2010 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - MAY 30: Ryan Ludwick #47 of the St. Louis Cardinals runs against the Chicago Cubs on May 30, 2010 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Cardinals need some help and in the past, DFA’d players have been hidden gems. Who have the Cards found on the Waiver Wire?

I know it’s still early in the season, and maybe it’s too early to worry. After all, it’s only June. But as I’m writing this, the St. Louis Cardinals rotation is in complete disarray and the bullpen (at best) is a mess. Additionally, the offense isn’t good enough to make up all the runs the pitching staff is hemorrhaging to other teams.

Six pitchers on the current 40 man roster are on the IL and seven outfielders between the  St. Louis and Memphis rosters are currently on the IL.

It’s too early to depend on the trade market to give the team any immediate relief or help. So, it seems the only avenue left to pursue is on the waiver wire, or in other words, picking up players who have been designated for assignment.

A simple definition of Designation for Assignment per MLB, is when a player’s contract designated for assignment (DFA) that player is immediately removed from his club’s 40-man roster. Within seven days of the transaction, the player can be either traded or placed on irrevocable outright waivers (waiver wire).

The Cardinals have already looked into the waiver wire and picked up LHP Brandon Waddell from the Orioles. Also, according to many media reports, the Cardinals are considering picking up off waivers former Redbird, RHP Shelby Miller.

Although picking up players off waivers may seem desperate, there is a history of value being found on the waiver line. In fact, the Cardinals have had some luck in the past with players who once were DFA’d, and their names may surprise you.

Ryan Franklin

Before Ryan Franklin showed up in St. Louis 2007, the right-handed pitcher had been bounced around in 2006 after spending six years with the Seattle Mariners. Signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies in January 2006, Franklin was DFA’d by the Phillies in August and acquired by the Cincinnati Reds.

Franklin’s 2006 year was a tough one on the Oklahoma native, pitching in 66 games with a 6-7 record and an unimpressive 4.54 ERA. The Reds didn’t bother to resign him and Franklin became a free agent.

Of course, Ryan Franklin redeemed his career in St. Louis. He was promoted to closer in 2008 and promptly saved 17 games.

Over the next four years, he saved 84 games and had a 3.52 ERA in his five years with the Cardinals. His best year was in 2009, where he saved 38 games with a 1.92 ERA and made an All-Star appearance.

Ryan Ludwick

Ryan Ludwick spent four years in St. Louis and won a Silver Slugger Award as a Cardinal. However, before the Cardinals invited him to spring Training in 2007, Ludwick had been DFA’d by the Cleveland Indians in June of 2005. No team claimed him, he passed through waivers and was sent by the Indians to AAA.

Ludwick and his right-handed bat spent the entire 2006 season with the AAA Toledo Mud Hens in the Detroit Tigers organization. Detroit didn’t offer a contract to Ludwick in 2007, and the Cardinals grabbed him.

The 6-2, 215lb Ludwick became a staple in the Cardinal outfield over the next four years. His best year in St. Louis was his Silver Slugger year of 2008 when he hit 37 homers and drove in 113 with a slash line of .299/.375/.591, and an OPS+ of 151.

Ryan Ludwick finished his four years in St. Louis with a slash line of .280/.349/.507 and an OPS+ of 125. Traded in July, 2010, he carried forward with a respectable career with stops in San Diego, Pittsburgh, and finishing up in Cincinnati in 2014. He had a 12-year career OPS of .781 and OPS+ of 105.

Jeff Weaver

In an earlier article, I named Jeff Weaver as an unsung World Series hero from 2006. What makes this an amazing story is where Jeff Weaver was on June 30, 2006 when he was DFA’d by the Los Angeles Angels.

More from St Louis Cardinals History

Weaver came to the Cardinals with a 3-10 record and a 6.29 ERA. After the Cardinals picked him up, Cardinals pitching coach, Dave Duncan went to work on the 29-year old right-hander.

It didn’t happen immediately, Weaver struggled in his first few outings as a Cardinal. Nevertheless, by the end of the regular season, he had lowered his ERA to 5.76. But it was in the postseason Weaver made a difference.

Weaver picked up wins in the NLDS vs San Diego, the NLCS vs the New York Mets, and the World  Series-clinching victory against the Detroit Tigers in Game 5. He had a postseason ERA of 3.625, in five starts, which included a World Series ERA of 2.77 in two starts.

Unlike Ryan Franklin and Ryan Ludwick though, Jeff Weaver didn’t stay a Cardinal very long.  On January 26, 2007, he signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners. Nevertheless, the St. Louis Cardinals got their money’s worth by finding Weaver on the waiver wire.

To wrap up…

The moral of the story is, you can find value on the waiver wire. The three above are just examples of how the Cardinals benefited from taking a chance on previously DFA’d players.

To add, there are other examples of players you may have heard of who spent some time on the waivers before redeeming their careers. Players such as Milton Bradley, Nelson Cruz, Latroye Hawkins, and Cardinal fan favorite Brandon Phillips, all were DFA’d at one time or another, but went on to be valuable pieces of the teams who picked them up.

Next. MLB Trade Rumors lists intriguing trade possibility for Cardinals. dark

What we all hope for, is the St. Louis Cardinals can find some waiver wire magic over the next few days and find one or two players like a Ryan Franklin, a Ryan Ludwick, and or a Jeff Weaver. It’s not easy, but, as history shows, it can be done.