Freese-Bourjos Trade Makes Sense for Cardinals

Trading David Freese (right) for Peter Bourjos helps the Cardinals' defense at three different positions. (Getty Images/USA TODAY Sports)

Trading David Freese (right) for Peter Bourjos helps the Cardinals' defense at three different positions. (Getty Images/USA TODAY Sports)

There are many different levels to the trade the St. Louis Cardinals made Friday afternoon, dealing David Freese and a pitching prospect, Fernando Salas, for center fielder Peter Bourjos and an outfield prospect, Randal Grichuk.

At the major league level, this works perfectly for the Cardinals. Without Freese in the way, Matt Carpenter, a natural third baseman who filled in admirably at second, can move to where his bat still plays, and his glove is likely to be better.

Kolten Wong, a top prospect who profiles as a plus major league second baseman, looks ready to take over the job in St. Louis next year. Though he struggled in his first 62 plate appearances with the Cardinals, he’s barely 23, and his minor league body of work suggests his St. Louis struggles were temporary.

At once, the move improves the Cardinals’ defense at two positions significantly. Freese, per the metrics and the eye test, struggled mightily at third. And Wong looks to solidify an up-the-middle defense to a greater extent than Carpenter, whose average glove was sufficient in part because his hitting was so strong, and in part because the Cardinals didn’t really have another option on hand.

And that’s before taking into account who they got back. Bourjos was slightly below average, per UZR, in 2013 in center field, but defensive metrics are unreliable over a single season, and that was in just over 415 innings, compared to a body of work that rates him as an excellent defender.

Even if he were merely average, though, he’s still a massive upgrade over the 2013 season Jon Jay had out there. Jay finished with a -7.5 UZR/150, looked even worse in the playoffs, and hasn’t been even an average center fielder defensively in any season save 2012.

Oh, did I mention the Cardinals got younger at three positions in the process? Carpenter is about to turn 28, while Freese will be 31 in April, and Jay is a full two years older than Bourjos.

But the real kicker here isn’t just that the Cardinals are bailing on Freese, a player beyond 30 who showed alarming decline in his hitting and fielding this year. They’re giving up on David Freese, the guy who kept them in Game 6 of the World Series back in 2011, twice. Players like this don’t tend to get traded without massive resistance from a team’s fans.

Yet the blowback from fans in St. Louis is likely to be minimal, if there’s any at all. That’s what happens when your team’s general manager, John Mozeliak, lets the best hitter the franchise has employed since Stan Musial leave via free agency, and turns his compensatory pick into the MVP of the 2013 NLCS.

It’s St. Louis. So the next time Freese comes to town, with the Angels or some other team, he’ll get a huge ovation.

But it’s the Cardinals. So they’re not going to miss him. They’re going to get better.

92 thoughts on “Freese-Bourjos Trade Makes Sense for Cardinals

    • Well I have been following the Cardinals since 1955 and all GREAT hitters have a down year every so often after injuries then bounce back with several great years. I have found that most of the time with the Cardinals trade a bird in the hand in not better than two in the bush. I predict that we will fall off a minimum of 15 to 20 wins in the 2014 season below the 2013 season by trading Freese an experienced clutch hitter. Please file this posting in your files and look at it when the Cardinals don’t make the playoffs in 2014. The Angels are laughing all the way to the playoffs!!!

        • Being an Angels fan, let me help introduce you to Peter Bourjos. He is faster than any of you have seen since Lou Brock. He is defensively better than Mike Trout (hard to believe but true), and he hits in the .290s, averages about 30 steals a year, and he is an excellent lead off hitter. We hate to lose him in all honesty, but Im glad he is going to the Cards, because you fans will appreciate him. His only downside is he plays with so much intensity that he gets hurt at least once a year. But from what I understand, you have an excellent backup in Jay. Oh, and thanks for Freese, we needed a true third baseman. I may be from southern California, but my national league team has and always will be the Cardinals! I HATE the Dodgers!

          • Let me introduce you to the REAL Peter Bourjos, not the fake terry is talking about. The REAL Bourjos had NEVER hit even close to .290 (career .261 hitter). He strikes out one in evey 4 ABs and has a career OBP of .306. Plus he gets hurt all the time.

      • “THE ANGELS LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE PLAYOFF’S ???”…………THAT IS A LAUGH !!!

        • Laughing all the way to the bank. Cards need some serious talent. We just have a bunch of rookies

      • You seem to forget, Freese while only 31 years old suffers from chronic arthritic ankles. That’s why when you see him run (forgetting that like so many others in our lineup, he’s painfully slow), he appears to be tippy toeing around. I’m amazed at how Freese has been able to stay relatively healthy in recent years. You mark this post, once Freese and the problem with his ankles resurfaces. Also those of us who live in St. Louis and know Freese well, know of his hard partying reputation–i.,e., he likes to drink heavy and often.

      • Seriously?? I will miss Freese the man…not the player. We just upgraded 3 positions with 1 move… Mo strikes again!!!!

      • I bet you said the exact same thing when Pujols came to the Angels. How has that worked out so far?

        • ….”Sizzle”. Nice point bob. I am so g
          Ad the cards actually had some common sense with Albert. We go him in his prime.

      • I agree. Trading someone that has done so much for the cardinals as David Freese because of one off year is a comeplete disrespect of David Freeze and shows that Mozeliak is a comeplete jerk. I have loved the cardinals for all of my 64years but this makes me lose a good amount of that love. It is a sad day in my baseball memory.

      • I’ve been a Cardinal fan since 1952, and I think your memory of prior trades is fixated on the time prior to 1960. The front office has done a marvelous job since then –especially since Walt Jocketty became GM. Barring something shocking (remember 2002?) I expect the Birds to be contenders for at least the next ten years and to add at least one more World Series victory in the next five.

      • Been following the Cardinals since I can remember, Enis Slaughter days, followed on radio, we could listen to news and the Cardinals and then I had to remember every play every pitch so I could relay to my father and brothers who were working in the fields. My mother lost her eyesite and she packed her cane in one hand and her transistor radio in the other to listen to Cardinals. You can heat batteries and make them good for a little while. That is what Granny had the grandkids to do. I am unhappy about the trade with Freeze but who am I? Just a Cardinal fan with a broken heart losing a hometown boy.

    • yesterday’s wine. Cannot win today’s game on yesterday’s heroics. It is a shame but we all get older and never fully recover from past injuries. Freese has no wheels left and a bad back. He will never be the same. As they say in England…the King is dead, long live the King.

      • Of course Albert is going to welcome freeze. He kept the World Series alive. I feel sorry for the rest of the angels freeze better get more money for all of them tolls in CA.

        All that said, I agree with the trade. More young talent.

    • What I am still wondering about is How much can a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?

  1. i think the trade of david freese helps both teams. they still need big bats though . curtis granderson would help or nelson cruz. they need pitchers also.

      • Is Beltran back? We need more power. Just like the cubs.

        Oh by the way. I wanted to record the biggest loser on DVR, but it keeps recording cubs baseball games.

  2. This is the part of baseball I will never fully understand. While I “get it,” in terms of the Cardinals trading David Freese from a strictly business standpoint, it still strikes me as really sad that this “franchise guy” who has made such a difference on the team, and who has been so loyal to the team, is discarded so matter-of-factly. Was 2013 an aberration for Freese, or is he really done? I hope he rebounds for the Angels! As a Nats’ fan, I saw how he always brought a fierce game to Nationals Park. Good luck to David with his new team.

    • Franchise guy? He came over from the Padres in the Jim Edmonds deal. He was a career minor leaguer till he was nearly 30.

      Look, I like Freese. He was a great story and we’ll never forget Game 6. But it’s not like the Cards trading Willie McGee or something.

    • From a CARDINAL Nation perspective let us not forget we traded Enos “Country” Slaughter and Steve “Lefty” Carlton. Then again we picked up The Wizard of Oz for a spoiled hotshot and best of all….stole Lou Brock from the CUBS. It is a business! It is why owners can charge $8/beer and Cano can demand a $300 Million deal. I really like the Freeze deal, it was the best of all worlds for the Birds.

  3. At first I was shocked and upset as a cards fan, but its what they do. That’s why GM gets paid well! He’s made great decisions and this looks like it could be another. Freese will always have a place in my heart for all he did in 2011 WS….gone but not forgotten.

    • WON OR LOST……..there are 28 Major League teams that wish they
      had the Cardinals success this past season, and yes,….the last two also

  4. David Freese will forever be in Cardinals lore. He deserves it. But this deal is a good one for the Cardinals, and unfortunately good people get traded……

    • Bourjos was hitting .313 last year out of the gate before he got injured. Doesn’t sound like he can’t hit to me.

      • career .261 hitter doesn’t exactly sound like he’s going to challange for a batting title either.

  5. Still waiting on that upgrade at SS, although now hearing rumors of an upgrade at 3B as well. Not sure I understand those, I thought this would free up Wong to start…

  6. As a Cardinals and Angels fan, I like the deal. Good for both teams. But what does this mean for Oscar Taveras? This guy has been a monster at every minor league level and was supposed to take over next year in CF for the Cards. Are his ankle injuries that severe that they don’t feel he will be ready by spring training? Perhaps they will use him as the 4th of TO give him some time in RF to give Beltran some days off? Beltran is getting a little long in the tooth, and Holliday could use a day off now and then. Losing Salas was not a big deal, Cards bullpen is deep and strong and Motte will be healthy next season. There will be some decisions to be made with Rosenthal and Mujica. I see a good battle between these three guys for the closer role and set up roles. The Angels will need Freese to get back to where he was in 2011/12 both offensively and defensively. Pujols will be back but how healthy will he be? I am not convinced that Hamilton is the big bat he used to be. But please, Angels, do NOT trade Howie! His bat is essential in that lineup too. Trade Hamilton instead. We have Calhoun, Shuck and a host of young guys who can man RF. Hamilton would draw a top quality starter, maybe a better one than Howie.

    • Bill, Chief is no longer a Cardinal, Matheny has stated as of Opening Day Rosenthal is the Closer, and unless things change, which is not completely beyond the realm of possibility but unlikely, Beltran will not be a Cardinal in 2014. At this point the most noise, so to speak seems to be coming from KC for him. Truthfully, being a Show Me Fella, since StL is not likely to figure into his plans, I’d like to see him back in KC. As far as Oscar, the last word we’ve been able to conjure up here is, he’s wearing a Protective-boot but is rehabbing in/at the Cardinals Complex in Florida this winter preparing for Spring Training and the 2014 Season. We’ll know more as the winter goes on and Spring Training approaches.

    • The scouting on Taveras has said he has had some time in CF in the Minors but projects more as a corner outfielder. So it seems our outfield will be Holliday, Bourjos, Taveras. This move will not affect Taveras it just means Jon Jay will be back on the bench.

      • Austin… Right now unless they trade Adams, OF will consist of Holliday-Jay or Bourjos in CF-Craig.

      • Probably because there are a couple of Reports [out there] that Jon Jay is sliding to RF with Adams either coming off the Bench but his Name is being floated as being involved in a Trade. Mind you, these are rumors and speculation from out of town Baseball/Sportswriters.

        • Crazy to trade Adams, a player who hit 17 monster homeruns playing PART TIME, in his FIRST YEAR !!

  7. Bad trade, David Freese was a Cardinal franchise guy and a local guy to boot. He brought a lot to the team that can’t be measured by traditional stats. Yes, it is a business and as we have seen repeatedly businesses make the wrong decision for the wrong reasons.

  8. I remember when they traded Willy McGee. That was a mistake and they got him back. We might not be so lucky with David Freese.

    David is far from finished. You have underestimated him! He proved that he can play well under pressure. We will miss him, and management has made a big mistake. Our best to him.

    • Love Freese but he was atrocious in the World Series, including in numerous situations where a hit would have made a huge difference. His job is to be an RBI guy and he was anything but. His reputation was for being clutch and in this postseason he was anything but. Maybe he will bounce back and I would have liked to give him another chance. But the motivation here is clear — they wanted to clear room for Wong at second; and they see Taveras as the CF of the future, are clearly not bringing back Beltran, and so want a much better insurance in CF for this season and 4th outfielder than the persistently underwhelming Jon Jay. This solves those problems. Hope Freese comes back and that this is a win-win trade. I definitely will miss having the guy, but won’t miss how lost he looked at the plate in this World Series. Now we must go get a SS!

  9. I think Freese deserved one more chance with the Cardinals but right now, this deal does look good for both teams. I hope it works out for the best. And Good luck Freese.

  10. I would bet the farm if Descalso was at SS all season he
    would produce as well or better than any of those over priced guys
    on the market. Vastly underated player.

  11. Gentlemen you must put on your objective glasses.. Freese is a good player but certainly not anything to lose sleep over. I’m sure he has a couple good years in him still but not for north of 4-5 million per season.. He was a late bloomer who is already 31. Carpenter has a better all around skill set and Jay just isn’t very good anyway. He is a perfect fourth outfielder. Bourjos on the other hand is right handed and has a truck load more upside than Jay ever has. (see 2011) The trade may not work out but it was the right move 10 times out of 10. Not to mention the prospect we got is arguably the best outfield prospect in our system now not named Tavares.

  12. Yes the Fresse trade does solidify the infield as far as 2nd and 3rd. I will miss David, a real team player. Couldn’t he have been used in a shortstop trade. Outfield seems cluttered to me. Guess maybe another trade on the horizon. Cardinal fan since 1955. Love this team.

    • More trades on the horizon…….J.J. Hardy and his power are needed……
      a Cardinal fan since 1950, when I was 14

  13. i think the cardinals preparing a great trade whith Colorado for ss Tolowsky , incluided Jon Jay , and other two player , one pitcher could be Lance Lynn and one infield could be Kotsma or Descalzo , is the big necesary of birds the other positions is covering ,

    starters: Waingright, Wacha, Miller, Kelly and Jaime Garcia

    reliefs : Carlos Martínez , Sigrist, Manness , Roshenthal , Mote , Choate , Axford

    catchers Yadier Molina and other

    first baseman : Matt Adams

    second baseman : Kevin Wong

    shortstop : Troy Toulowsky

    thrid baseman : Matt Carpenter

    utility ; Daniel Descalzo

    outfielders : Bourjos , Holliday , Alan Graig , Shane Robinson , Oscar Taveras if resign Carlos Beltran our team is best than like 2013 roster .

    no forget the cardinals have four the first 85 selections in the next draft and the St Louis GM have take a hards decitions but the time gives the reason.

  14. Tulo is way to expensive. Slated to make; 2014′-$16M, 2015′ through 2019′-$20M, 2020′-$14M 2021′-$15M with a $15M Team Option and a $4M Buyout.
    More likely to sign drew for a couple years and draft heavy at ss, or still try and make a trade with the rangers to get profar.

  15. I like the deal a ton. We just improved our defense immensely at 3 positions. Wong has considerably better range than Carp at second, albeit Carp performed admirably there. Carp’s defense is a massive upgrade over Freese and Bourjos’ defense is leaps and bounds better than Jay. We also dumped about $4 mil in salary obligations next year. I see this as a prelude to a much bigger deal that is about to happen. I could see the salary dump as way to absorb a high salary such as Tulo. A package like Adams, Lynn, Grichuk, and Tyrell Jenkins/Marco Gonzalez for Tulo would work well for both teams. Rockies would get their power hitting replacement for Helton, a quality starter that is better than all but maybe one of their current starters, a power hitting OF prospect and a high ceiling SP prospect that is near MLB ready. I could also Adams, Lynn/Kelley, Garcia, and Grichuk/Piscotty for Tulo. Either would be a great take for the Rockies getting 2-3 quality major leaguers and a high ceiling near MLB ready prospect or 2, while the birds get their answer at SS for the forseeable future and a middle of the order bat that improves our hitting against lefthanders.

    Line up of Bourjos, Carp, Tulo, Craig, Holiday, Molina, Tavares, Wong would be exciting both offensively and defensively. Cards can absorb the loss of talent and gain of salary with ease.

    Go Birds!

  16. Look how far we went with what we had. Don’t fix if not broken. I think the cardinals made a big mistake. Cardinal nation is not happy. Hope your not sorry come playoff time if the cards are not there. What were you thinking?

  17. Trading Bourjos for Freese was okay for the Angels but I don’t like the other half of the trade. The Angels have enough relievers with high ERA’s.

  18. I don’t get the age issue. Bourjos is arbitration eligible. Age works against us with Wong had a very tough September and terrible playoffs. He was not ready . Metrics cannot measure “deer in the headlights” feel during world Series. Can he recoup? I don’t know. Part of the Cards problem was over reliance in rookies and even young pitchers your second best starter Lynn was a third year pitcher which led to no experience in critical spots in bullpen, starters, and bench. Bourjas is a good back up . Great Glove. Fast. Cannot hit consistently. Great 4th outfielder and pinch runner for a proven regular. Mind you not a critical one. But filled the role. They need to trade for Hardy at SS. Trade for a franchise player that can play centerfield or right Cargo. Trade for Cliff Lee a proven second stopper. To me everyone but Waino, Carpenter, Rosenthal, Wacha, Yadi, and Craig is tradeble

  19. Best 2B season by a Cardinals since Hornsby is “filling in admirably”?
    Gee, can I write for this website too?

  20. This trade shows why the Cards are in the playoffs almost every year. Who is the GM for the Angels, and why does he get to keep his job? Any team wanting to unload broken down players, Anaheim will gladly take your calls.

    • I’m just glad to keep my job. The angles are good and I don’t even know why they keep me.

  21. I hate this trade. As an Angel fan, here we go again. Again broken down haz been like Albert. Makes me ill.. I can’t stand Angel management. It’s pathetic…

  22. Good luck to David Freese…..hopefully the change of scenery will do him good. Playing in front of home town fans is tough enough but having to try and live up to the 2011 heroics must have been a tremendous strain. Thanks for the memories….game 6 the best ever….EVER!

  23. I will rest judgement till this time next year but here’s my prediction. Matt at 3B is OK but nothing spectacular defensively (no gold glove) but has another gr8 year offensively. Wong ends up splitting time with Descalso at 2B and CF is OK but nothing gr8 with Bor….! All in all the trade did NOT make the Cardinals any better than they were with Freese at 3B, Matt at 2B and Jay in CF!

  24. It’s OK… David need a change just as much as we needed the upgrade. In about five or six years David Freese will be back in Cardinal Nation. It all good,,,

  25. Freese is a good man. ‘Hate to see him go. ‘Hope he plays well for the
    Angels. Over their many years the Cardinals have had to move some
    good men –Enos Slaughter, Willie McGee, Carlton, McCarver, Pollett,
    Pujols….and even Red Schoendienst….. and there was even talk at one
    time of Stan Musial for Robin Roberts, straight up ! But, generally the
    Redbirds do the right thing and make the right deal –for the team, and
    for the top baseball fans in the game.
    As McGuire and Will Clark found out… how are you going to beat
    winding up a great career in St. Louis.