Too many Angels in outfield? Trade could follow
Hamilton deal sets up possibility of dealing Bourjos for starting pitcher
ANAHEIM -- It seemed like the flurry of trade rumors surrounding Peter Bourjos finally came to an end this offseason, when Torii Hunter's deal with the Tigers opened up a solidified everyday role in center field for the young speedster.
Now Bourjos seems more likely to be traded than ever.
The Angels stunningly agreed to terms on a five-year, $125 million contract with free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton on Thursday, setting up a situation where general manager Jerry Dipoto can flip one of his cost-controlled outfielders for a somewhat-necessary starting pitcher.
The ideal candidate -- because he hardly played last year, because several teams would be interested and because the Angels already have an excellent center fielder in Mike Trout -- appears to be Bourjos.
"Obviously this game's a business, and you know that going into it that you can eventually be traded," Bourjos said when reached by phone on Thursday. "If you have an opportunity, from a management standpoint, to sign Josh Hamilton, I think you do it. And then, wherever the pieces fall with me or whatever they do, you handle that aspect."
Hamilton was expected to undergo a physical examination Friday in Southern California, the final step before finalizing a deal. If all goes smoothly, the Angels' next step will likely be using the trade route to further bolster a starting staff that can use one more arm.
Bourjos seems like the ideal candidate to be moved in that scenario, but young backup catcher Hank Conger and switch-hitting designated hitter Kendrys Morales -- who's entering his final year before free agency -- could also be made available.
It's unlikely that the Angels trade Garrett Richards, who's the kind of cost-controlled starter they're trying to maintain, and a release of Vernon Wells, who's owed $42 million over the next two seasons, seems far-fetched.
Mark Trumbo? Reports have indicated that the Angels plan to keep him. But, at the very least, they'll listen.
Trumbo faced similar uncertainty last offseason, when the signing of Albert Pujols prompted a third base experiment that went awry -- and isn't expected to be repeated in 2013 -- but he eventually solidified an everyday role in left field.
Trumbo hopes that continues to be the case.
"I'm going to take care of my business," Trumbo, a Southern California product who grew up an Angels fan, said Thursday night. "Things are always rumored. I don't know if there's been an offseason that there hasn't been something that's happened that could rattle me. But as I did last offseason, I'm going to continue to picture myself in an Angels uniform contributing to a championship-caliber team and not worry about the rest."
The Angels currently have Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson at the top of their rotation, followed by the recently added Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton, plus the returning Richards and Jerome Williams. But Richards, 24, still has options left, and Williams could easily serve in the same long-relief role he pitched in down the stretch last year.
The Braves' signing of B.J. Upton, the Phillies' trade for Ben Revere, the Nationals' acquisition of Denard Span, the Giants' decision to bring back Angel Pagan and the lingering free agency of Michael Bourn can only limit Bourjos' market. But trade options remain.
Here are some potential ones if the Angels choose to part ways with the speedy center fielder ...
The Mets have been shopping knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who's a free agent at season's end, has yet to agree on a contract extension and is owed $5 million in 2013. But Dickey is said to be seeking a two-year, $30 million deal, which would be difficult for an Angels team that currently has its payroll at a franchise record of about $160 million.
People familiar with the Mets' thinking told MLB.com's Anthony DiComo that while they like Bourjos, they don't view him as the centerpiece of a deal for the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner.
The Marlins have long coveted Bourjos and have been willing to move Ricky Nolasco, though he's owed $11.5 million in his final year before free agency.
The Rays also like Bourjos and have a couple of young, talented, cost-controlled arms in Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore. But they've already parted ways with James Shields and Wade Davis.
The Dodgers' signing of Zack Greinke made Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly expendable. But their starting outfield is stacked, and they recently acquired Skip Schumaker as a backup.
The Mariners continue to seek outfield help after missing out on Hamilton -- though they prefer a power-hitting corner guy -- and have top pitching prospects in Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen.
The White Sox also like Bourjos and can part ways with Gavin Floyd, who's owed $9.5 million in his final year before free agency.
The Angels would like a cost-controlled starter in return, but whether or not the right deal materializes remains to be seen. A lot of options remain on the table, including going into Spring Training with two reserves in Bourjos and Wells, as was the case down the stretch this past season.
But the most likely scenario, seemingly, is that an outfielder gets dealt.
And that puts Bourjos in the center of things once more.
"If it's a situation where I can play every day, then I absolutely would love to stay there," Bourjos said. "I love everybody from [owner] Arte Moreno on down -- [president] John Carpino, Jerry Dipoto, all the guys in the team. That's where I'd like to be. But if I'm going to be in the position where I was last year [as a reserve], then obviously I'd want to play every day."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.