COMMENTARY | Ever since the St. Louis Cardinals and general manager John Mozeliak handed first baseman Allen Craig a five-year, $31 million contract extension last winter and did not give third baseman David Freese a similar deal, there has been constant speculation regarding the future of Freese in St. Louis.
Some felt that the writing was on the wall.
Based off the number of trade rumors surrounding Freese, that speculation feels a lot more like reality as it seems nearly inevitable that Freese gets moved this winter.
The latest rumor, as reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com , has the Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels discussing a possible deal involving Freese. Rosenthal also reported that a deal would not include shortstop Erick Aybar and instead, the Cardinals are seeking outfield depth.
If Rosenthal's reports are indeed true, now would be a great time to take a look at how former hot prospect center fielder Peter Bourjos would fit in St. Louis.
Bourjos has been an underachiever throughout his career at this point. In 2011, his only season where he played more than 140 games, Bourjos hit .271 with a .765 OPS while popping 12 home runs and swiping 22 bags. That is pretty serious production.
But since, Bourjos has been underwhelming at best and has had trouble cracking the Angels lineup on a regular basis thanks to a crowded outfield that includes more expensive and experienced options. The emergence of Mike Trout as one of the best players in baseball has not been easy for Bourjos, either.
It may be difficult for Cardinals fans to get excited about a player like Bourjos, but he could be an excellent fit in St. Louis for several reasons.
First, Bourjos is an excellent defensive player and would be an obvious upgrade over the incumbent Jon Jay. Bourjos has a career 2.74 range factor as a center fielder, a number that would have finished seventh in all of baseball in 2013 among center fielders had he seen more time. Having premium defense in an important position like center field, considering the strength of the Cardinals for years to come figures to on the mound.
Bourjos can run as well and gives the Cardinals an element of speed the offense sorely needs. Only three teams hit fewer home runs than the Cardinals in 2013, and it is unlikely that St. Louis will be able to repeat its 2013 success while hitting with runners in scoring position. Adding the speed of Bourjos may be able to supplement the lack of power and the likely decline at the plate with men on base.
Bourjos is cost-controlled until 2017. Bourjos is eligible for arbitration this winter, but will likely cost significantly less in arbitration than Freese because he has a much lower profile.
Bourjos hits from the right side. Jay, along with hot prospect Oscar Taveras, who figures to be in the center field mix in 2014, both him from the left side. Bourjos would help keep the options balanced from both sides of the plate.
Finally, Bourjos could greatly benefit from a change of scenery. This was once a highly touted prospect. He has potential and has flashed it in the past and with a chance to play more regularly in St. Louis, Bourjos could flourish.
Bourjos may not be the man that Mozeliak and the Cardinals are looking to target in a possible deal with the Angels, but he should be.
Bourjos would be a nice fit for the St. Louis Cardinals and would offer an upgrade in center field because of his ability to play defensively and the element of speed he would add to the Cardinals' nonathletic lineup. His presence would give the Cardinals options at a low cost.
Parting with David Freese will not be easy for Cardinals fans. But if Mozeliak and the Cardinals think that Kolten Wong is ready to play second base every day and if Matt Carpenter can repeat his 2013 success at the plate while moving to third base, looking to move Freese for a player like Bourjos is a smart move.
Corey Rudd is owner/editor of StlSportsMinute.com and co-host of Fan Interference on CBS Sports 920 AM in St. Louis. Rudd writes about the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Rams and Missouri Tigers football team as a contributor for Yahoo Sports. You can follow him on Twitter here.
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