Angels deal Peter Bourjos to St. Louis for David Freese

November 22, 2013

The Angels solidified their infield by acquiring third baseman and former World Series hero David Freese, as well as righty reliever Fernando Salas from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for speedy center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfielder Randal Grichuk. Today’s announcement, made by Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, still does not address the team's ultimate need -- starting pitching.

Third base has been an unstable spot in Anaheim to say the least.  The Angels experimented with slugger Mark Trumbo, but he proved too ineffective defensively to man the position.  Since then, several other infielders have manned the hot corner for the Halos, none of whom are as reliable as Freese.  Now the Angels can bank on penciling in his glove and solid bat into the lineup every night.

Freese, 30, is coming off a somewhat mediocre 2013 season in which he posted a .262 average with nine home runs and 60 RBI in 138 games for the Cardinals.  However, Freese has the capability to produce at an All-Star level as seen by his knack for clutch postseason play and his .293 and 20-blast season in 2012.

Since the start of the 2010 season, Freese’s .285 clip ranked fifth among N.L. third baseman, while his .356 OBP ranked fourth. He has a career .289 postseason average, and became the sixth player to be named both the LCS and World Series MVP.

The trade will also reunite him with former Cardinals teammate Albert Pujols.

The loss of Bourjos, meanwhile, officially closes Dipoto's vision of fielding perhaps MLB's most athletic trio of outfielders in Bourjos, Mike Trout, and Josh Hamilton.

Bourjos, 26, is a speed merchant and an excellent defensive player capable of covering a lot of ground in center.  He is also a solid hitter overall, with decent power and the ability to rack up steals on the basepaths.  He has made just two errors in his last 164 games.  The issue for him is not talent, but whether he can stay healthy.

Bourjos last year appeared in just 55 games, batting .274 with three home runs and 12 RBI.  He missed a total of 103 games throughout the season due to multiple injuries.

Even more painful for Angels fans was that the team let respected veteran free agent Torii Hunter walk last year in order to free up an outfield spot for Bourjos. Hunter ended up having a very productive season for the Detroit Tigers.

With Bourjos gone, expect star Mike Trout to play in center, with Hamilton in left and Kole Calhoun in right.

Salas, 28, appeared in 27 games out of the bullpen for the Cardinals and finished 2013 with an 0-3 record and 4.50 ERA.  He missed 33 games on the disabled list with right shoulder irritation and was not on the Cardinals 2013 postseason roster.  Salas has not committed an error in 407 professional regular season games between the Majors and Minor Leagues.

Grichuk, 22, spent his fifth professional season at the Angels’ double-A Arkansas club, where he batted .256 with 22 home runs.  Prior to the 2013, he was rated as the Angels’ sixth best prospect by Baseball America.  He was a 2009 first round pick (24th overall) by the Halos.

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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