The Los Angeles Angels have made a big splash for a second straight offseason, signing outfielder Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal on Thursday. Even with the departure of Torii Hunter in free agency, they now have a cluster of outfielders that includes Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Vernon Wells and Peter Bourjos along with Hamilton.
Trout is obviously firmly in place and the team has already said they are not looking to trade Trumbo. Wells has two years and $42 million remaining on the big contract he signed when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays, so it’s safe to say he will be hard to move even without considering his decline in offensive production.
That leaves Bourjos, who was limited to just 195 plate appearances last season as the Angels struggled to find consistent playing time for him. He acknowledged having a hip injury last spring, which may have been a factor in his limited playing time, but he did not require surgery and should be ready to go for next spring.
When he did get regular playing time in 2011 Bourjos was fairly productive offensively, hitting .271 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI along with 22 stolen bases and 11 triples over 552 plate appearances. He has just a .301 on-base percentage in 299 major league games, but at age 25 (26 before the 2013 season starts) he has time to refine that part of his game and become a suitable leadoff hitter.
Any team that has a hole to fill in center field should have some interest in Bourjos if he is made available, and the Minnesota Twins certainly fit that bill at this point. The trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere over the last couple weeks has opened up a spot in center field and at the top of the Twins’ lineup, and there is not a clear-cut candidate for the job in place right now. Bourjos is an above-average defensive player, so he could help hide the shortcomings Minnesota has at the corner outfield spots with Josh Willingham and Chris Parmelee currently expected to start in left and right field respectively.
Bourjos would have no issues securing regular playing time in Minnesota, barring a separate move in the near future to add someone, and his development could then theoretically take off. It’s a fair assumption the Angels would not want to add signficantly to their already elevated payroll at this point, so their expectations in trade talks may be very reasonable. General manager Terry Ryan should not give up a top prospect or a high level major league player to get Bourjos, but if the price is right I would like to see him in a Twins’ uniform on Opening Day 2013.