After a couple of days of talking, the Cardinals and Angels finally agreed to a trade yesterday sending David Freese and Fernando Salas to the Angels for Peter Bourjos and prospect Randal Grichuk.
When I first heard the news, I wasn't too thrilled with the idea. First, Freese, who hits lefties pretty well, could provide the Cardinals with a platoon option for Kolten Wong. Second, what do the Cardinals need with another outfielder?
However, the more I looked into Bourjos' stats, the more I liked him. He is generally considered one of the best center fielders in baseball. Per Fangraphs, his 20.2 UZR/150 since 2010 is the highest in all of baseball during that time.
In addition, his platoon splits do not scream part-time player (like Freese's do). For his career, he has a .706 OPS against lefties and a .703 OPS against righties. You can't get much closer than that.
Granted, Freese has a career .783 OPS and is arguably the better hitter than Bourjos, but Bourjos' defense more than makes up for it. During his career, Freese has a cumulative WAR of 8.2, however, Bourjos' career WAR is 9.0 in 619 fewer at bats.
Bourjos will take over center field for Jon Jay and Wong will take Freese's spot in the lineup, playing second while Matt Carpenter moves over his natural third base position. Thus, not only will the center field defense improve, but the infield defense should as well.
The only drawback I can see is that there is now no spot for Oscar Taveras, as some had suggested he could take over center for Jay. However, Taveras has to prove himself healthy next season, after missing significant time with an ankle injury. Once he does, the Cardinals will find a spot for him.
Finally, I haven't even talked about the other piece the Cardinals got, Grichuk. Grichuk ranked 6th among the Angels top prospects prior to the 2013 season, according to Baseball America. Grichuk had 22 homers in AA last season, but hit only .256. In general, he shows above average power, but is a bit of a free-swinger.
Overall, the general consensus is that it was a good deal for the Cardinals and I see no reason to disagree.