(BaseballStL) – In the first big move of the offseason, the Cardinals have acquired Peter Bourjos from the Los Angeles Angels in a four-player deal involving David Freese and Fernando Salas.
The speedy center fielder comes to St. Louis with a .251 career average, though he has only played one full season- coming in 2011.
That year he hit .271 with 26 doubles, 11 triples and 12 home runs. He also stole 22 bases.
"Peter Bourjos has a unique skill set. Probably one of the faster guys in the league, and can steal bases," said GM John Mozeliak Friday. "He didn’t get a lot of opportunities in [Los Angeles] but different league, different place."
His real value, however, comes on defense. Bourjos posts a career defensive runs saved of 15 per season.
His Ultimate Zone Rating (a measure of range) is 40.1 for his career. This is a significant improvement over Jon Jay statistically, who posts a UZR of -7.3 for his career and -1 defensive runs saved per season. Via FanGraphs
Bourjos, 26, played only 55 games in 2013 due to injury. Mozeliak said the club looked at his injuries thoroughly, and expect him to be cleared for baseball activities by the end of the month. Despite the center fielder's battles with health, the GM thinks the club will be better for it.
"One of the things this guy does, he plays fast," Mozeliak said. "You have to find ways to contain that to some degree ot help [him], but in a lot of ways I'm just excited to see a guy like that on the field."
Bourjos is arbitration eligible for the first time in 2014. His earliest free agency will be 2017.
Coming with him is AA player Randal Grichuk, who hit .256 while playing outfield last season. He was drafted one pick ahead of Mike Trout, and adds depth to the minor league roster.
"Adding the young player, Mr. Grichik, was also critical to getting this done," Mozeliak. "Any time you can add more depth to your system makes sense for us if we can do it."
Fernando Salas is the final piece of the puzzle coming from the Cardinals. Salas bounced between AAA and the majors last season after being sidelined with a shoulder injury in May.
While Mozeliak did say Wednesday the club planned to tender an offer to Freese, he said the chances of Salas making the major league roster were low. The GM had planned to meet with Salas' agent to determine the best course for the young pitcher.
Freese’s departure will move Matt Carpenter to third for 2014, giving Kolten Wong the opportunity to become the full-time second baseman.