Could the Rays Trade for the Angels’ Peter Bourjos?

By Jenna West

As the Tampa Bay Rays strive to improve their team for next season, many players have the potential to come across their radar. The Los Angeles Angels are doing the same thing, but unlike the Rays, they have one clear goal in mind: improving their starting rotation. The Angels have made it known that they are willing to trade outfielders Mark Trumbo and/or Peter Bourjos for a starting pitcher. With the Rays having the type of young pitching the Angels covet, could that be enough to strike a deal.

Playing only 55 games in 2013, Bourjos hit .274/.333/.377 with 26 runs and 12 RBI. His OPS was .710, solid for a centerfielder, especially one was playing in a pitcher’s ballpark, and that stood out even more because of the rest of his game. Bourjos plays excellent defense in centerfield, and while he is still learning how to steal more bases, he has excellent speed. The major issue, though, is his injury problems. Bourjos’ playing time was cut short on April 29 after he pulled his right hamstring while running to first base. After returning on June 10, the outfielder got hit by a pitch on his left wrist on June 29, fracturing his wrist. Then he returned on August 16, although his wrist was still fractured. On September 3, Bourjos had wrist surgery. If he had not been plagued by injuries, Bourjos had the potential to be a much more dynamic player during 2013. Instead, the DL stints derailed him, and Bourjos’ value remains far from what it could be.

Even if his wrist is fully rehabbed by the time Spring Training rolls around in 2014, Bourjos is not the type of player the Rays are looking for. The Rays have young pitching, but they would only trade it for a excellent talent at a position of need. The Rays already have numerous options for outfield players. Although the Rays have Wil Myers playing right field and Desmond Jennings in center field locked down, it is uncertain who will play left field. Matt Joyce often played there, but the Rays may not bring back the arbitration-eligible outfielder. Others who can play in the outfield include Ben Zobrist, Sam Fuld, and Sean Rodriguez. Kelly Johnson spent time in the outfield during 2013, but he is a free agent this offseason and probably will not be returning to Tampa Bay. Perhaps the Rays’ best option is signing outfielder David DeJesus, whose stellar performance in September with the Rays helped them reach the playoffs.

However, the Rays typical model of winning games with pitching and defense makes Peter Bourjos the perfect candidate for fitting in with the Rays long-standing playing style. Their outfield is full, but if the right offer comes along for Bourjos, they could pounce. Just don’t expect them to be overaggressive.