The Los Angeles Angels signed Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract yesterday, and as a result, their outfield is once again loaded with too many players. Following a year in which Torii Hunter had a resurgent campaign in a free agent walk season, the Angels looked as though they would enter the 2013 season with some combination of Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Vernon Wells, and Bourjos in the outfield. Prior to the signing, it seemed pretty clear that Bourjos would take one of the two available outfield spots, possibly shifting over MVP runner-up Trout to left field.
Now, the Angels' outfield situation is a little more crowded with the addition of Hamilton. Given Trumbo's successful 2012 season at the plate (.268/.317/.491, .346 wOBA), it seems as though the Angels would prefer to trade Bourjos, who hit just .220/.291/.315 last season (.272 wOBA). Even with the awfulness that is Vernon Wells in the final season of his enormous contract as the fourth outfielder, the Angels would rather use one of those outfield pieces to add some depth to their starting rotation, which took a blow when Zack Greinke signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
So Bourjos may very well be on the trading block, and any number of teams looking to add a defensive center fielder could use him in their lineup. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro wonders if the Miami Marlins may be a part of that list.
The idea here is that, if the Angels were interested, the Fish could throw in prospects into their trade to add Bourjos to their roster. The Angels would use their outfield depth to add pieces, while the Marlins would receive a starting-caliber center fielder to roam the cavernous Marlins Park.
Earlier in the offseason, I spoke a little about the merit of acquiring Peter Bourjos, and I maintain the same stance as before. Bourjos is an excellent addition if the Marlins can find the right price. He is a perfect fit in the wide-open space of Marlins Park, and he fits in nicely with the team's desire to run the bases and be aggressive to compensate for a lack of power.
Of course, the Angels are looking to win right now, and you would imagine that they would be interested in filling a hole that they have in their roster rather than trying to add prospects for the future. That is why I believe the Fish would have a difficult time acquiring Bourjos, even with the added incentive on the side of the Angels to trade him. In the linked article, I mentioned that the only way I thought the Marlins could pull off a trade was to send Ricky Nolasco for free to the Angels.
The only way I see a move happening is if the Marlins paid for all of Ricky Nolasco's salary and sent him along with a prospect among their ten best, perhaps one of the ones acquired via the Blue Jays trade. In essence, the Marlins would simply hand Nolasco over free of charge to provide the Angels a one- to two-win starter and give them a replacement prospect who could be worth value. Nolasco's season for free would be worth $5 million to $10 million, and a prospect like Justin Nicolino could perhaps make up for the rest. Even then, this would be a highly unlikely scenario, and the Marlins should likely be content with what they have if the Angels are looking for more help.
Maybe the Fish could pull off such a move. Nolasco with the Marlins paying off all of his salary holds a decent amount of value, and any of the Marlins' prospects that were sent over from the Blue Jays, or even a player from a position of depth like a non-Christian Yelich outfield prospect (Jake Marisnick or Marcell Ozuna) could be sent in addition to Nolasco to eventually replace Bourjos or Trumbo once he inevitably becomes a designated hitter.
The advantage for the Marlins in a trade, however, is that the Angels may not be able to get a great package for Bourjos anyway given his speed-and-defense skill set. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs made a comparison between Bourjos and Cameron Maybin, and the Marlins dealt Maybin for just two relievers. Bourjos may very well be an average major league starter, but it is difficult to see because his value is tied to defense rather than performance at the plate.
So once again, trading for Bourjos is a possibility, and the best bet for the Marlins would be to pay for Ricky Nolasco to get his wish and play somewhere else. The additional cost beyond a free Nolasco to the Marlins will determine whether the Fish make this move or not, because there is no pressure for the Marlins to pursue assistance in this lost 2013 season. For the Angels, they have put themselves under a significant microscope, and if they have an opportunity to improve their rotation or bullpen with a trade, they may be more desperate to do so. If it nets Bourjos at the right cost, the Marlins should jump at the opportunity, because he remains an excellent fit.