Cards trade Rasmus to bolster pitching

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals addressed a pitching shortage Wednesday that dates to spring training, acquiring right-hander Edwin Jackson in a three-team trade that cost them starting center fielder Colby Rasmus.

The Cardinals sent Rasmus and two relievers to Toronto, sacrificing a starting outfielder to get more pitching for the second straight year near the trade deadline. Last July, the Cardinals dealt right fielder Ryan Ludwick to San Diego in a three-team deal that brought them starter Jake Westbrook from the Indians.

"He's a power arm, a different look from what we roll out there," general manager John Mozeliak said of Jackson, who threw a 149-pitch no-hitter last season for Arizona. "He has the capability of being a dominant pitcher."

Jackson had been dealt to Toronto a few hours earlier by the White Sox, who also sent utility player Mark Teahen to the Blue Jays in exchange for reliever Jason Frasor and pitching prospect Zach Stewart.

"It was a good trade, all the teams got what they wanted," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "And hopefully it works out for all of us."

Except for teams chasing the Cardinals in the NL pennant race.

"Not much I can do about it," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It's the same level of frustration. The rich teams get richer. They usually do something this time of year."

Jackson has been dealt seven times since being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a 17-year-old in 2001.

"I was born on the move, being a military brat," Jackson said. "My whole life is pick up and make new friends."

Besides Jackson, St. Louis acquired relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski, outfielder Corey Patterson and three players to be named or cash. Along with Rasmus, the Blue Jays got pitchers P.J. Walters, Trever Miller and Brian Tallet.

The Cardinals lost 20-game winner Adam Wainwright to elbow surgery in spring training.

"We address our needs of getting a starter and a left-handed reliever and bullpen help," Mozeliak said. "We're very excited about this."

Rasmus had long been rumored trade bait after electing to work on hitting with his father instead of Cardinals batting instructor Mark McGwire. Rasmus has two homers in his last three games, pulling out of a prolonged slump in which he had zero RBIs in 13 games, and was batting .246 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs.

"I've heard if you don't get along with the manager in St. Louis, you can't play," manager Tony La Russa said. "That's ridiculous. If you get on Tony's bad side you're out of here, that's wrong."

Teammates felt the trade was more about the stretch run than personalities.

"I don't think there was anything sinister or anything behind the scenes that prompted this," Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman said. "I know there's a history, but I felt like this was a pure move to say, 'Hey, we've got a chance to win now.'"

The 24-year-old Rasmus is eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season. Mozeliak said several teams had been interested and Jon Jay has developed as an everyday talent, so Rasmus was expendable.

"I think he'll always be remembered as someone with a lot of talent, but at the end of the day we had to trade him," Mozeliak said.

Rasmus had a solid season in 2010, hitting .276 with 23 homers, 66 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 464 at-bats. He had a .361 on-base percentage but struck out 148 times.

Drafted by St. Louis in the first round in 2005, Rasmus is a .228 career hitter against left-handing pitching. But the Blue Jays hope to tap his potential, and Anthopoulos said he had been "after Colby for a while."

"I think it was well-documented that that relationship was probably not meant to be or not long-term, and it's probably best for both parties that Colby gets a fresh start," Anthopoulos said. "I think he's going to fit in great and he's going to thrive."

The Cardinals led the NL Central heading into Wednesday's games, but Milwaukee was only a half-game back and Pittsburgh was one game behind in third.

La Russa said Kyle McClellan, 7-6 with a 4.15 ERA in his first year in the rotation, would return to the bullpen as a setup man.

"I felt like the time I was in the rotation I did a good job," McClellan said. "I've done the bullpen and I'm OK with it."

Chicago acquired the 27-year-old Jackson from the Diamondbacks on July 30 last season. The right-hander is 7-7 this season with a 3.92 ERA in 19 starts for Chicago, which had been carrying six starters on the roster.

"At the end of the day, I've come to understand the game of baseball," said Jackson, eligible for free agency after this season. "This is not my first time being traded. Any time I've been traded, there's never been any hard feelings."

The White Sox were in third place in the AL Central, 4½ games back. With the trade deadline looming Sunday, manager Kenny Williams said this week that he was undecided whether to cut payroll or add veterans for the stretch run. He said dealing Jackson helps on both counts.

"We needed to make a little bit of a dent in our payroll, which is stressed a little bit," Williams said. "But we did not want to be making a move that would be counterproductive to the opportunity for us to win still."

Teahen was signed as a free agent before last season to be Chicago's starting third baseman. The 29-year-old was derailed by injuries and ended up as a bench player for White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Teahen hit .203 in 51 games this season with three homers and 11 RBIs.

"Mixed emotions for sure," Teahen said. "Obviously, I'm disappointed in the way it all worked out here. I wanted it to go a lot different."

Frasor is a native of the Chicago area. The 33-year-old right-hander was 1-1 with a 2.98 ERA for Toronto in a setup role.

"He's one of the top quality relievers in baseball," Williams said. "He will fit in."

Stewart was a third-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2008. The 24-year-old started three games for the Blue Jays this season, going 0-1 with a 4.86 ERA. He was 5-5 with a 4.20 ERA for Double-A New Hampshire. Stewart will be assigned to Triple-A Charlotte.

"Zach Stewart has been on our radar for a long time, particularly last year when he was doing some special things in Double-A," Williams said. "He will ultimately be in the mix in some way, shape or form. Most likely this year."

To fill the open spot on the 25-man big league roster, the White Sox recalled center fielder Alejandro De Aza from Charlotte and put him in the lineup for Wednesday's game against Detroit.

"The other part of doing what we did today, that allowed us to get De Aza in the lineup in center field," Williams said. "That affords us to give Ozzie something more than honestly what (Alex) Rios is giving us. Rios is going to have to take a back seat now."

Rios has hit just .208 this season in 97 games despite a hefty long-term contract that will pay him $12 million this season and has two more years plus a club option remaining.

"Here's what I told Ozzie: Do not worry about the size of the contract," Williams said. "Just worry about putting the players (on the field) on a given day that can help you win. I'm sending a message to everyone."