At some point in the next few weeks, the Angels are going to trade either Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo or Kendrys Morales. Such is the domino effect of the Josh Hamilton signing and such is the Angels obvious need to upgrade their rotation. There are positives and negatives to dealing each of those three players but Peter Bourjos stands out from the trio.
Why, you ask (or not, but I'm just going to assume you did)? Because the Angels need to trade him.
But let's be clear, there is a difference between should and need. For example, the Angels should trade Bourjos because he probably has the most trade value. His offense may be questionable, but his elite defense guarantees that he will still provide a fair amount of value even if his bat doesn't bounce back unlike Trumbo who has no defensive value whatsoever. It doesn't hurt either the Bourjos is dirt cheap and still has four seasons of team control remaining unlike Morales who will cost a few million bucks in this his final year before hitting free agency..
They should also trade him because there is a great deal of volatility in that value. If he has another season where he craters with the bat, his stock is going to plummet. He is always going to be plagued by questions about his bat, but at least for 2012 he can use the excuse of sporadic playing time and two nagging injuries. If he falls on his face in 2013 but doesn't have the injuries to hide behind… well, good luck getting anything other than another young player being dogged by similar question marks.
The Halos should also opt to trade Bourjos instead of Trumbo or Morales because the addition of Hamilton was one made to improve the offense. Dealing away one of their other power hitters would serve to negate some of the additional production that Hamilton brings. What the Angels paid for was lineup depth, but how deep can the lineup really be if they have Bourjos potentially posting a .235/.280/.370 at the bottom of the order?
Those are all EXCELLENT reasons for the Angels to trade Bourjos. However, the reason that the need to trade him is just to be fair to the poor kid.
I know sports and life in general aren't fair, but how can you not feel for a guy who registered a .765 OPS in his first full season while also playing mind-meltingly superb defense in center field, combining for a 4.5 win season. From a value standpoint, that made him a top 50 caliber player in 2011. So what was his reward for that fantastic debut? He was almost immediately put into a timeshare situation with the sucktastic Vernon Wells and the disgruntled Bobby Abreu in 2012 before losing his starting gig almost completely by then of April.
Why did he fall out of favor so fast? Because he got off to a slow start with the bat, just like almost everyone else in the lineup. For some reason he was singled out and downgraded to a mere afterthought by the end May. In just two months, Bourjos went from a franchise cornerstone who had the front office fending off trade offers from all corners to a player limited strictly to defensive replacement and pinch running work because he got caught up in the same hitting slump as the rest of the team.
Now, Bourjos has had to suffer the indignity of losing his starting job once again, only this time, he literally did nothing to lose the job. Jerry Dipoto made no bones about the fact that he fully planned to go with a Trout-Bourjos-Trumbo outfield in 2013. On multiple occasions he insisted this would be the starting outfield for the Halos next season and that he was not looking to upgrade any of those spots, specifically Bourjos' spot. Well, we all know what happened next.
The situation is now really the worst case scenario for bad luck Peter. Behind door number one is a trade to a team that wants him and intends to play him everyday. It won't be the team that drafted and cultivated him, but at least he gets to play. Only he may find that door firmly locked if the Halos choose to trade Trumbo or Morales or none of the above instead. That leaves him left with no choice other than door number two which conceals another season of Bourjos riding the pine, trying to keep himself motivated between his bi-weekly defensive replacement appearances. Of course he'll still have to endure endless trade rumors swirling around his name because with his potential value, the trade winds are never going to stop blowing until the Angels finally set him free.
For his sake (and, selfishly, the sake of upgrading the Angel rotation), let's hope the Halos see fit to granting him that freedom as soon as possible. It is the least they could do for a youngster that has done nothing but prove his critics wrong and admirably play the role of loyal soldier despite his unwarranted demotion down the roster.