NL Central News: Cardinals Trade Freese for Bourjos

The St. Louis Cardinals made a trade this afternoon, sending third baseman David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for outfielder Peter Bourjos. The two sides also swapped additional players, with the Angels getting Fernando Salas and the Cardinals getting Randal Grichuk, according to Ken Rosenthal, who first reported the trade.

The move for the Cardinals should result in a shakeup of their 2013 lineup. With Freese gone, it’s expected that Matt Carpenter would move to third base, opening up second base for prospect Kolten Wong. Bourjos is a great defensive center fielder, and is much better than Jon Jay at the position. Bourjos has a career UZR/150 of 20.2 in center, while Jay has a career -0.6 UZR/150 at the position. So Bourjos is a big upgrade defensively. He could also be a candidate to bounce back offensively. If he puts up numbers like he did last year, and does that over a full season, he could be a very valuable player for the Cardinals.

From there, the only question is what the Cardinals will do in right field. My guess is that they move Jay over to right until top prospect Oscar Taveras is ready. It’s also possible that Taveras could take over on Opening Day.

I’m not sure about the total impact to the Cardinals’ offense. They’re basically replacing Freese with Bourjos, plus this also means they might not be bringing back Beltran for right field. Defensively, this is a big boost for the Cardinals. They upgrade in center field with Bourjos over Jay, and they’d upgrade at third base with Carpenter over Freese. You could also make the argument that they’re upgrading defensively at second base. Carpenter had a -2.0 UZR/150 last year at second, while Wong had a 16.3 UZR/150 in a very limited amount of innings. That’s a small sample in both areas, but Wong projects as a better defensive second baseman than Carpenter, so it’s easy to look past the stats in this case.

Last year the Cardinals had the 29th ranked UZR/150, with a -10.6 mark. So this move definitely addresses a need for them.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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2 things Scott. 1. Great catch on the Yankees. I saw that too and thought how crazy it is. I think Yankees realized how much of a mistake it was letting Martin go, so they did whatever they could to get someone in.

2. I’m not saying I hate the bourjos trade. It does good for cards. Opens up spots. I understand bourjos could be a prime candidate for bounce back. But what I’m saying is look at the numbers. Yes bourjos is a ten times better outfielder than jay. And that’s essentially why they brought him in. But from your context, you are making him sound like the next comeback player of the year. You focus on his 2011 season. His 2011 season (offensively) is still worse than any of Jon jays numbers.

You really thought it would cost lynn or miller to get him? A 3 and 4 starter to get a player who is essential a 4th outfielder. A defensive outfielder? You would give up Charlie Morton to get him? I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want him batting Leadoff for the pirates either.

Again I’m not discrediting the move because it opens up spots that the cards wanted. But don’t act like this is a huge blockbuster trade. Specially for a guy who has not Been able to stay healthy for a full season

Scott Skink

Nothing to do with this topic at hand, but wanted to put this out there:

Two players, age 28-29 seasons (WAR as B-R/FG):
Player A: 889 PAs – .242/.315/.426/.741 WAR 3.0/4.4
Player B: 961 PAs – .224/.316/.405/.721 WAR 4.3/4.7

You can probably guess that Player A is Brian McCann and B is Russell Martin. So the Yankees let Martin walk and sign with the Bucs for $17 mill for two years with the numbers above then sign McCann for $17 million per year – double what they were paying Martin.

MLB. What a country!

Bob Martin

Now that the Cards got Peralta to sign you can see what team is using the extra money from the National Tv deal and who isn’t!!! You thought they were hard to beat last season just wait!!!

IC Bob

Looks like the Cards are filling in what few holes they have and the Bucs? The jury is still out.


Bad news…according to MLBTR, the Cards are close to signing Perslta.


Call me crazy, but I think this is the kind of move the Pirates should try with Walker at some point while he still has value.


Really Scott skink, you think bourjos had a great year in his whole 50 games played? He’s been in the league 4 years and has only played in more that 101 games once. 2 things: you are going to base his ongoing performance off 3 good months but not look at rest of his career? His a little news… Zach duke had a great rookie year…. How is he doing. 2. To compare marte vs bourjos is ridiculous. They may compare defensively, but martes first full year trumps anything of bourjos. He had a higher batting average, higher OBP, more SB, bourjos walks more but marte gets hit more and they pretty much strike out the same. Marte a little more. You can’t come close to comparing them

Scott Skink

And in the one year he did play full time (2011) he was a 4.2-5.1 WAR player, depending whose WAR you use. So no, I don’t think his three months in 2013 was a fluke.


To those suggesting that Bourjos is a quality lead off hitter: that is ASININE. Bourjos has a career OBP of .306 in over 1,100 MLB PAs…w an overall line of .251/.306/.398. His career walk rate is 5.5% which is slightly better than Starling Marte’s 4.4%.


I am not alarmed….I may have blinders on but I don’t think so… These moves are fine. Cubs and Cards will be worthy foes no doubt. However, when I honestly look at the next few years and I project the pitching coming to the major league club in Pittsburgh I have a very hard time seeing anyone being able to consistently hang with them. Pittsburgh looks to be a serious contender and getting stronger as they go. Not weaker. 2013 was the appetizer, not the main course. Best is still coming.

Jason Katsos

Any chance the Pirates look to move Pedro? If we follow the TB model we should either try to lock him up long term cheap (seems unlikely at this point) or trade him when he has optimal value. He is under team control for 3? More years but he is going to start getting expensive. Would a trade with Det centered around nick castellanos make sense?


This was a good move for the Cardinals but not as good as all of you keep saying. What you are forgetting is that Bourjos is ALWAYS hurt!

Cato the Elder

And owns a 251/306/398 triple-slash, in case you got the impression that they traded for a young Ken Griffey Jr. I mean, it is a nice deal for the Cards largely cause it opens up spots for Wong and Taveras, but Freese for Bourjos in a vacuum is not all that special. Their bats probably take a small step back while there defense improves significantly. Net positive, certainly, but ostensibly not a game changer.

Here’s the question: we’re you afraid when Jon Jay came to the plate? If no, then rest assured that Peter Bourjos is a significantly worse batter than Jay.

Jay: 293/356/400
Bourjos: 251/306/398

Also, consider that they essentially traded Freese’s bat for Wong’s and Beltran may or may not be back. They will be good, no doubt, but no need to make this into a bigger deal than it is.


You beat me to it cs. And even if he stays healthy,he hA better get thOse legs in shape with Craig in RF & Holliday in CF ! Jon6,did you really watch Adams in the LCS & WS ? He was no more ready for that pitching than the man in the moon. As someone who saw Adams play in High School and has pulled for him all along,I know this : show him a LH pitcher and he is pretty much done.


I did watch Adams in the playoffs and I have seen many more seasoned and much better pros do as he did in playoffs. But that really wasn’t the point. The point is they don’t bring players up to please the fans and sit them on the bench which is obviously what the Pirates did with Lambo. At that point in the season you couldn’t read a blog or a fans comment about how bad our right field and first base production was. There was guy in the minors who played right and first and was tearing the minors up. They bring him up weeks later and rarely play him while the team was still suffering the bad production. All I was saying is if ever you had a more perfect situation to see if you had a diamond in the rough it was the time he was there till they acquired Byrd and Morneau.


CS: Ditto. Because of the injuries PB has been no more than a utility OF the past two years, and another OF (Grichuk) who does have some pop, but is barely into AA. Freese is a professional hitter who is still only in his second year of arbitration. Both Bourjos and Freese had down years in 2013, and maybe they both will benefit from the change of scenery. Giving up a starting player after a down year could backfire, but they had to make the move.

Scott Skink

Bourjos had a down year in 2013? That would be news to pretty much everyone in MLB.

The guy was lights out through June, finally becoming the player people expected him to be. He had an OPS well over .800 when he got hit in the wrist by a pitch. He couldn’t swing his bat right after that and got surgery to put in a pin.

Everyone here LOVES Marte. Let’s remember he didn’t do much in September after taking one of the hand.

Marte has more power than Bourjos certainly, but Bourjos will work pitchers and will get on base more. I’d put them about equal defensively.

Cato the Elder

Scott ,can you please tell me how a .306 career OBP is compares to .332? How about .333 to .343?

Over his career and over last season however you want to slice it, Marte, who is not noted for is plate discipline has a higher OBP than Bourjos.

Scott Skink

Obviously you guys don’t care much for Bourjos. So let’s just revisit this end of 2014.

Funny how career #s are only important when it supports your argument. Bourjos is about as perfect a bounceback candidate for a position player as one could ask for.

Cato the Elder

I don’t really dislike Bourjos, or this deal for the Cards. I just am calling for some perspective. You said, “I wanted Bourjos to bat lead off for the Pirates, screw power, go for the OBP.”

On top of having below average power his OBP stinks over his career and wasn’t particularly good last year either.

If you want to tell me why you think he is prime for a bounce back I’d listen, but “a couple of [cherry picked] good months” isn’t going to cut it.

Cato the Elder

Hahaha! Guess who has a better career OBP, Peter Bourjos, or Pedro Alvarez?

Trick question: they both have the same 306 OBP.

That is your next lead off hitter for the Cardinals!? A powerless Pedro Alvarez.


PB in 2010 and 2011 was the guy the people expected him to be. His 2012 year was bad and his 2013 year started well but finished badly. And, the first half of 2013 was not nearly as good as his full season in 2011. I tend to think that Jeff Locke had an excellent year in 2013, but his error was also having his half season in April, May, and June. Regardless of why PB tailed off, they only pay on the final score, and the Angels did not have a full time use for him in the OF. As far as needs, the Halo’s plugged 2 position needs while not giving up anything on which they depended.

The Cards are cutting payroll (Carpenter, Beltran, Freese) to deal for a Shortstop, improving positional coverage (PB for Jay, Carpenter for Freese), getting younger, and set up for locking in some of the young pitching long term. Mozeliak is a good GM. Kolten Wong will be at 2B, and will be the leadoff hitter – he is that good to move everybody around to get his bat and glove in the lineup.


The classy way the Cards run their organization was demonstrated by how they handled the departure of Pujols. They made him a very handsome offer (though at a discount to his fair market value) to placate the fan base (and they were probably desperately hoping that someone would bail them out). The sigh of relief from the Cards GM office when Pujols signed with the Angels probably was on the order of a tornado. Given his decline, and the performance of his replacements at first base the Cards really made out. That should be an example to the Pirates as to how it’s okay to let your aging stars go, if you have personnel ready to step in behind them.

By the way was it crazy for the Angels to offer Pujols what they did? Maybe not considering LA is not only a large market area which has a huge Hispanic demographic. Pujols probably helped their merchandizing sales significantly. Pujols was simply worth more to LAA then to the Cardinals for a commercial perspective, though from a baseball perspective he should have had the same value to both teams.


The Cardinals do enough right, let us not give them more credit than they deserve. An organization does not make a $200 million plus offer hoping a player will not take it. There is a lot of uncertainty in projecting players, especially an outlier like Pujols, the Cardinals got lucky, anything else is revisionist history.

The issue with the Angles is that owner keeps mandating big signings, also merchandise goes into the Central Fund so the Pirates benefit equally from those Pujlos, the Angels, Angels of Anaheim jerseys.

Stephen Brooks

The Cards don’t even have to start Taveras right off the bat since they have Adams and presumably a healthy Allen Craig, who I guess would be the RF. Nice problem to have – 6 SP (Wainwright, Wacha, Kelly, Miller, Garcia, Lynn), and quality hitter at 7 positions, plus John Jay off the bench and Taveras waiting at AAA. Some of that inventory could be flipped for a SS, assuming they don’t sign Drew.

Man, that is one well-run organization.


And the Pirates are getting there so I really am not big on selling the farm by thinking that one or two big names will put us over the top. The Pirates could probably compete in the division even if they stood pat but there wouldn’t be room for any big slumps doing the season. That being said I personally feel they should use their available resources on first base and use the right field and pitching options they already have in the system. My only concern is Hurdle’s unwillingness to use young position players. He had plenty of opportunity to use Lambo after he came up and in situations that weren’t all that crucial and he didn’t. St. Louis never hesitates to use young players in those situations and then when crunch time comes they are ready. Adams was a prime example of that. Still looking forward to the 2014 season and especially seeing Polanco in spring training.


Any chance Polanco starts the year in Pittsburgh?


Yes! Unless they sign a veteran I think with a big spring training he might be starting opening day. If not, I expect we will see him no later than early June.


Scott,I am kind of curious as to who you think would have been replaced in the Pirates OF after a theoretical trade for him ? And don’t say RF,because the guy coming in the near future is a 5 tool guy,and Peter ain’t that !

Scott Skink

That’s simple. You flip either Bourjos or Marte after the season for something else of need. Ideally Bourjos gets an injury-free year to showcase himself and you have a plethora of riches. Doing this would’ve put much less pressure on Polanco to succeed from the getgo and would have made the Bucs OF bulletproof. Plus Bucs would actually have a leadoff hitter.

Scott Skink

I hate this trade for the Bucs. I thought for sure it was going to take Lynn or maybe Miller to get Bourjos. But Freese? That’s like stealing.

Assuming Bourjos bats 1 or 2, that’s some serious plate discipline at the top of the order. I fully believe Bourjos is the player he was from April-June last year and will have an impact far beyond just defense. I wanted the Bucs to get him for leadoff, screw the power, take the OBP.

Cato the Elder

Bourjos has a career .310 OBP. For the sake of comparison, Marte has a .329.


Any thoughts on Grichuk?


They’re so frustratingly good. Bourjos > Jay. Taveras could be as good as Beltran in like 2 years at one thirtieth or fortieth of the price. Carpenter > Freese and cheaper. Wong < Carpenter.

This is a team that is getting better and cheaper and is in a bigger market than the pirates. Gotta give them credit. they're gonna be tough to beat. But if there's one team set up in both the present an the future to compete with them, it's the Buccos.

in 2 or 3 years, there are going to be some epic Cubs-Cards-Bucs playoff battles.

Mr. Goodkat

Really respect/hate what St. Louis and Chicago are doing.

Not that the Bucs aren’t keeping pace and making similar moves — it just makes it more difficult to push ahead of the pack.


I also respect the Cards. I don’t hate them. Maybe in time I will if the Bucs lose out to them in the playoffs etc. year after year. I do hate the Brewers and Reds. It just goes to show the more assets and deeper you are the more you can make these moves. When you have the flexibility that the Cards have you don’t HAVE to make a move or overpay. And that’s when teams get into trouble, even big market teams.


Speaking of trades does the Fielder to Texas trade take them out of the Loney running (if they were even in it) and help the Pirates in anyway? Any dominos here that fell in our favor?


Excellent. Given the two who would you prefer?

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