Cardinals Emerge On Top In Freese-Bourjos Trade

Posted: November 23, 2013 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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David_Freese

The St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Angels pulled off one of the more intriguing deals of the offseason on Friday afternoon, with the Cardinals sending third baseman David Freese and pitchers Fernando Salas to LA in return for outfielders Peter Bourjos and minor league outfielder Randal Grichuk. For both teams, the deal represented a pursuit to fill in positions in need of upgrade, yet both solutions come at the hope of an upside swing of two different varieties.

On the Angels End: Anaheim has long been in need of a steady answer at third base, as they have been chasing a solution at the position since Chone Figgins departed a few years back. Alberto Callaspo had manned the role over the past few seasons, but he was more of an over-extended utility man than anything else. In Freese, they make a move for a player who carries a career .286 average and never has a season with an on-base percentage south of .340, and is just a year removed from a .293/.372/.467 2012 split, all numbers that surpassed Callaspo’s best campaign substantially.

However, Freese comes with some risk, as he’s never completed a season without at least one disabled list stint. Also, he showed major regression in 2013, as he steadily struggled with the strike zone, in addition to limited range in the field. He is an absolute upgrade from a situation that was looking to be filled by Andrew Romine or Chris Nelson as of yesterday, and saw little to no full-time solutions on the free agent market. Freese is an immediate plug and play upgrade, whom can take some time at designated hitter.

Salas has a diverse history in the bullpen, manning nearly every role in the Cardinal bullpen over the past four years, but is likely to have to compete for a role in the LA pen in the spring.

On the Cardinals End: It is a deal that represented an opportunity to get a piece that was not an absolute necessity, but too good to pass on in Bourjos. A 27-year-old, low cost outfielder that covers as much ground as any player in baseball in the outfield, he is an absolute upgrade in the Cardinal outfield that has suffered from limited range for the majority of the past two years. Bourjos also presents a speed element that has been non-existent in the station-to-station Cardinal lineup for some time as well.

As well, the team the team acquired one of the Angels’ top prospects (in an organization devoid of much talent beneath the Majors) in Grichuk. He is projected to be a strong candidate for development and should remain in the Top 10 prospects within the substantially deeper Cardinal system.

The move creates even further financial freedom for the Cardinals, as Freese was due for a raise in the neighborhood of $4.4 million for his second time through arbitration this winter. Salas was a candidate to be non-tendered this offseason by St. Louis, so including him in the deal was likely a throw in. The Cardinals get a crucial extra year of club control in Bourjos, who is not scheduled to hit free agency until after the 2016 season and makes just over $1 million currently.

Bourjos creates a multitude of options in how the Cardinals will handle their 2013 roster.

Bourjos creates a multitude of options in how the Cardinals will handle their 2013 roster, as he has played every outfield position, and enables Jon Jay and Oscar Taveras more flexibility.

The Dominos: The aftermath of the deal is in an instant fill in for the Angels, but also the loss of a player that projected to be their top offseason trade chip in Bourjos. While Freese fills a need, the Angels greatest problem is their lack of starting pitching depth. No player on their team created more interest than the young, cost-controlled Bourjos, and by not getting a starting pitcher in return for him, they likely will be forced to spend (over overspend) even more in the free agent market to remedy this issue.

The theme of the trade continues to revolve around starting pitching for the Cardinals as well, who manage to avoid having to include anyone from their stockpile of quality starting pitching within the deal. That likely would have been a non-starter within the deal, unless shortstop Erick Aybar was included as well, which was discussed but could not be settled upon.

Also of importance for the Cardinals, is the trade cleared up the pending infield time jam between Freese, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong. Carpenter can now return to third base, while Wong can inherit the second base job freely.

The Winner:  It was a swap of expendable players for both sides, and ones with similarly questionable health histories as well as potential to have much greater seasons than they are coming off. But in the end the Cardinals win out as much for getting the plus tooled Bourjos as the Angels lose in trading him for a return less than he could have netted.

For more on the Cardinals evolving offseason in real-time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For more Cardinal coverage, head to I70 Baseball and The Sports Fan Journal for the game, the culture and the events.

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Comments
  1. brianmark1970 says:

    Reblogged this on Brian's Hobbies.

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