TRADE: FREESE TO ANGELS FOR BOURJOS

The St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels have swapped name players in another pre-Winter Meetings trade.

CARDINALS GET: OF Peter Bourjos, OF Randal Grichuk
ANGELS GET: 3B David Freese, RHP Fernando Salas

The Cardinals get younger and open up an everyday spot for super-utility man Matt Carpenter at 3B. Bourjos, 26, fits perfectly in their system with stellar outfield defense.

The Angels have to believe that Freese, at age 30, has more of the form that he showed in 2012 when he set career highs in games played (144), OBP (.372) and SLG (.467). His post-season exploits in 2011 are well-known, as Freese took home MVP trophies from both the NLCS and the World Series that year. And his development was steady from 2010-2012, such that it indicated he wasn’t just a one-year playoff splash.

2013 saw a dropoff as Freese slashed .262/.340/.381. But the Angels have a spot for him at the hot corner where his glove will be an asset and, wherever he fits in the powerful batting order, he won’t be asked to carry the team.

Salas is a reliable arm that should help the Angels’ bullpen.

The wildcard in this trade could be Grichuk, who entered the 2013 season as the Angels’ #6 prospect on Baseball America’s rankings. Whatever he’s done in the Angels’ farm system, he’s also known for being selected one pick ahead of Mike Trout in the 2009 First Year Player Draft. With Trout off to a “decent” start in the bigs, the Angels can afford to deal Grichuk. After fighting through injuries his first few pro seasons, Grichuk was healthy in 2012 put up some good numbers at hiA Inland Empire. He followed that up with a healthy, productive 2013 at AA and at age 22, he could pay off for the Cardinals down the road.

This is a tough trade to predict who will be the winner (most are). The Cardinals get youth and an excellent defensive player in Bourjos who fits right into the way they play. The payoff could be big for the Angels if Freese thrives in a batting order that features a healthy Albert Pujols and a focused Josh Hamilton, among other big bats. Salas will solidify the Angels’ bullpen while Grichuk has yet to be seen above AA. But he could very well end up being a big bat for the Cardinals.

Many observers see this as a win for the Cardinals, but I hold out at this point and lean slightly towards the Angels. Obviously, to lean that direction I believe in Freese and what he has done at the major league level. The Cardinals are younger and less expensive in this deal, which is very important, indeed. And I have a tough time seeing a matchup of Jon Mozeliak vs. Jerry Dipoto coming out with Mozeliak on the losing end.

But let’s see on this one. Dipoto may be proven to have dealt from an organizational strength to obtain a key piece at a premium position (Freese) while adding a solid middle reliever (Salas). And that could very easily trump what the Cardinals get out of Bourjos and Grichuk.

 

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