The St. Louis Cardinals continued their offseason transformation on Friday by trading third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas to the Los Angeles Angels for outfielder Peter Bourjos and minor league outfielder Randal Grichuk, according to the Angels' Twitter account.
Today the club acquired INF David Freese and RHP Fernando Salas from the @Cardinals in exchange for OF Peter Bourjos and OF Randal Grichuk.— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) November 22, 2013
Dealing Freese doesn't come as a huge surprise since he has been been rumored to be on the move for the past few weeks. Even so, it has to come as somewhat of a shock to the system for Cardinals fans.
The news of St. Louis dealing Freese, the 2011 World Series MVP, comes on the heels of starting pitcher Chris Carpenter announcing his retirement on Wednesday.
The St. Louis Cardinals provide this quote from GM John Mozeliak:
As you can imagine, trading somebody with the history of @dfreese23 & what he meant to this organization - it's never an easy decision- Mo— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) November 22, 2013
"Even though he loved being here and loved being a Cardinal... I have to think he's looking forward to a fresh start." - Mo on Freese— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) November 22, 2013
"This team's not done. We still have work to do between now and Spring Training." - Mozeliak pic.twitter.com/pYE0A7QgYn— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) November 22, 2013
Freese, Carpenter and Salas were all key contributors to Cards' World Series title in 2011, so there is no doubt that fans had some level of attachment to them.
With that said, this deal makes sense objectively. Freese struggled this season to the tune of a .262 batting average with nine home runs and 60 RBI after making the National League All-Star team for the first time in 2012.
The 30-year-old third baseman is also arbitration eligible for 2014 and 2015, meaning it's likely he would have gotten a raise from his $3.15 million salary, which wouldn't have made sense for the Cardinals financially.
Some might view Bourjos as a light return for someone who has had immense postseason success, but he figures to fill a need for St. Louis. Outfielder Carlos Beltran has hit the open market, and he is in conversations with a number of teams, including the world champion Boston Red Sox, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
Heard the #RedSox have had "serious dialogue" with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) November 19, 2013
Assuming St. Louis is unable to re-sign Beltran, there will be a major hole in the outfield. Bourjos is very much unlike Beltran in that he's a speed and defense guy, but those are two elements the Cardinals desperately need.
Jon Jay was hit-and-miss for the Cards last season as a leadoff hitter, and no player had more than 10 stolen bases for St. Louis.
Bourjos has been a part-time player for the Angels over the past two seasons, but he swiped 22 bags and hit 12 home runs while batting .274 in 2011. If he earns a starting job, he could prove to be a key players for the Redbirds.
With Matt Holliday and either Allen Craig or Matt Adams likely to be the starting corner outfielders for St. Louis in 2014, Bourjos' speed in center will be a huge asset.
Salas, a 28-year-old right-hander who appeared in 27 games for the Cardinals this past season, and Grichuk, a 22-year-old prospect who hit .256 with 22 home runs in Double-A in 2013, round out the deal.
Grichuk Tweeted his thoughts following the trade:
Both the Cardinals and Angels clearly needed to make some changes in order to ensure success next season, and this trade could very well work out for both parties.
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