The good news about the Peter Bourjos injury is that it his right wrist injury is not chronic. As he gets ready to go out on a rehab assignment it can be assumed that he will be the Angels everyday Centerfielder when he returns to the lineup later this month. But the bad news, at least for Bourjos fans, is that his return to health immediately makes him the most trade-able Angel on the team.
With pitching depth a priority, the Angels have three big trade chips:
- Erick Aybar is signed for three more seasons at $8 Million per year. He is a veteran SS of above average defensive capability and can be an offensive asset when placed well into a given major league lineup.
- Howie Kendrick is signed for two more seasons at $9 Million per year. He is a veteran 2B of above average defensive capability and is an offensive asset.
Both of these players have proven to be durable and have a talent for staying healthy.
- Peter Bourjos, though, is a bigger trade chip. He is under club control for three years, but his salary then will be determined by arbitration. He is the best defensive center fielder in baseball and is growing into an offensive weapon beyond the asset of speed alone. He is young enough that his peak can be considered to match those arbitration years. Any knack he has for getting injured by his all-out style of play is mitigated by the lower salary and the lack of any one chronic condition.
But in the outfield, the Angels can cover the defensive prowess of Bourjos with Mike Trout in CF and easily make up for his bat with the emergence of Kole Calhoun. Sure it has been a tiny sample size this past week since Calhoun was called up to the majors, but besides production, consider some other things that qualify Calhoun to serve as insurance that make Bourjos more likely to be traded for pitching come the long cold lonely winter ahead...
Kole Calhoun injured the hamate bone in his hand earlier this season and was out with surgery in early April. He bounced back to bat .354 with an On Base Percentage of .431 and an OPS of 1.047 all with highly regarded outfield defense. He is only six months younger than Bourjos but his earliest arbitration season will be 2016 and he will be under club control through the 2018 season.
Does that add up? Calhoun has more power than Bourjos and no matter what his defensive value, RF is not as valuable as CF defensively, but with arguably the second best CF in the game already performing just fine there in the person of Trout, the presence of a competent, cost-controlled #3 starter and Calhoun would be better for the Angels than Bourjos in the lineup, Calhoun on the bench and Joe Blanton as the team's #3.
Of course, this point would be moot if Jerry Dipoto had believed in Calhoun from the start and convinced Arte Moreno not to pursue Josh Hamilton but what's done is done. Now it is time to do something about it.