This weekend marked the end of the 2013 trade deadline for MLB teams meaning any deal from here on out must go through waivers. For those who do not know waivers are when a player is placed on a list and made available for any team to claim. From there either a trade can be worked out between the two teams, the team that placed the player on waivers can withdraw the name or if no team claims the player they can be assigned to the minors, traded to anyone or released. The St. Louis Cardinals have benefited several times in taking advantage of the waiver wire. Below are three of my favorite waiver deals in recent history for the Cardinals.
#1- Larry Walker- Larry Walker was a five time All-Star and winding down his 17 year career. In 2004 the 37 year old outfielder was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Chris Narveson and two other minor leaguers. Walker joined a team that was already 10+ games ahead in the Central Division and became a member of an outfield that featured Ray Lankford, Jim Edmonds and Reggie Sanders. Walker’s presence was memorable because of his leadership in the clubhouse and production on the field. Walker hit .280 with 11 home runs and 27 runs batted in 44 games down the stretch for St. Louis. He continued his success in the post-season, hitting .293 with six home runs and 11 RBI as he helped the Cardinals reach the World Series for the first time in 17 years. Walker returned the following season with the Cardinals, in a starting role this time, putting up solid numbers (.289, 15 HR, 52 RBI) despite battling through injuries and retiring after the season.
#2- Woody Williams- Woody Williams is arguably the face in St. Louis for not just waiver deadline deals but the Dave Duncan resurrection pitcher. Williams was 34-years old and a .500 pitcher for his career before joining the Cardinals in 2001 in exchange for Ray Lankford. Williams immediately made an impact with the Cardinals. St. Louis was in 5th place in the Central and 7 1/2 games behind the Cubs. Sparked by Williams the Cardinals went on to capture the Wild Card before falling to Arizona in the NLDS. Williams went 7-1 with a 2.28 earned-run average that season. He made such an impact the Cardinals brought him back and pitched the next four years with the Redbirds, recording 45 wins.
#3- Arthur Rhodes- Who would have thought a 40-year old pitcher in his 20th season in baseball with a 4.81 earned-run average would go on to be a key part of a championship team; that is what Arthur Rhodes did in 2011. Rhodes was picked up by the Cardinals after the Rangers released him due to the Rangers making two deals to shore up their own bullpen at the trade deadline. Rhodes was nothing special during the regular season for the Cardinals, appearing in 19 games and recording a 4.15 earned-run average in 8 2/3 innings. However once the Cardinals reached the post-season that is when Rhodes made his name. Rhodes appeared in 8 games in that post-season, allowing no hits in 10 batters faced, including retiring all three batters he faced in the World Series helping the Cardinals beat his former team from earlier that season, the Rangers!