(BaseballStL) -- The St. Louis Cardinals’ trade deadline acquisition of Edward Mujica last year wasn’t a front page move around the baseball world.
It flew under the radar for many reasons. For starters, it didn’t involve any blockbuster names like Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, Hanley Ramirez, Zack Greinke or Jonathan Broxton.
Those were the ‘sexy’ names that were moved prior to July 31 last year. The wild rumors that had Greinke or Broxton coming to the Cardinals were denied and so were the fans’ dream of 2012.
The Cardinals were not totally quiet during the offseason though. They did make a trade: Mujica for Zack Cox. It wasn’t a risky trade for the Cardinals at the time. They needed bullpen help.
Although it seems like any player brought up from the minors this season has become a gem for St. Louis, the team didn’t have that luxury last year. They needed a reliever to come in from the outside.
Mujica wasn’t that big name. His career numbers were mediocre. The hype of the trade was low, especially compared to the Colby Rasmus trade of 2011.
Since arriving to the big leagues as a 22-year-old righty in 2006, Mujica had played for three different teams prior to coming to St. Louis. He started with the Cleveland Indians organization and was sent as part of a conditional deal to the San Diego Padres in 2009. In November 2010, he found himself traded again -- this time to the Florida Marlins. A 2012 trade deadline trade to the Cardinals marked his fourth different team in seven seasons.
Mujica has been a different pitcher with St. Louis. His career earned run average sits at 3.80, which isn’t eye-popping by any means, but it’s only 1.19 in 48 games with the Cardinals.
He proved to be a reliable reliever down the stretch last season as the Cardinals made their way to the NLCS.
He is proving his worth even more this season after Mitchell Boggs couldn’t find a groove as the fill-in closer with Jason Motte out. Boggs was optioned to Triple-A Memphis after posting a 12.66 ERA in 14 appearances to start the year. He was 2-for-4 in save situations.
That’s when Mujica made himself worthy of a shot as the team’s closer. He has posted 13 saves, sixth-most in the majors, to go along with a 1.42 ERA and 0.53 WHIP, which is the lowest of any relief pitcher with at least 14 innings pitched.
The most important stat is the zero blown saves. The rest of the bullpen is a combined 2-for-9 in save opportunities.
As the summer heat rises and the midseason mold comes into form, the phones will begin ringing in preps for the July 31 trade deadline. It will likely be another reminder that it isn’t the big names that will be most valuable. The hidden gem deals seem to be always better.