If the Miami Marlins indeed have eyes for Peter Bourjos, they should know they’re not alone: the upstate Tampa Bay Rays may be willing to send pitcher James Shields to the Los Angeles Angels for Bourjos, catcher Hank Conger, and possibly struggling pitcher Ervin Santana.
ESPN reported the possible deal Tuesday afternoon. Tim Kurkjian reported “a source” saying the teams want to make the deal but the complications to wring out could include money issues to resolve, though Kurkjian didn’t indicate they were unsolvable.
If this deal is done, it could be a winner for both sides. The Angels need rotation help with Jerome Williams faltering and Santana continuing to be the inconsistent talent he’s been most of his career to date. The Rays need help behind the plate and Congers is a perfect fit right now, while they also expect B.J. Upton to leave by way of free agency at season’s end and Bourjos is a player they could lock in long enough term if they acquire him.
Shields has been one of Tampa Bay’s best starting pitchers since they rose to contention status a few years ago, but he has two expensive enough team options to provoke the frugal Rays to consider a less expensive buyout before he hits the free agency markets if they can’t get value for him now. He’s been a trade rumour subject himself recently, particularly since scouts became alarmed over his increasing reliance on a cutter at the near-expense of his signature (admittedly top of the line) changeup and his fastball. He hit patches of inconsistency this season as a result, and he recently put the onus entirely on himself.
I’m just not making my pitches. That’s all. I’ve got to do a better job of making my pitches. Of course it’s frustrating. I’m not doing my job right now. The bottom line is I’ve got to get better.
The trade winds at this writing also carry speculation that the Atlanta Braves have Shields on their wish list, willing to trade prospects to get him. Still considered a strikeout pitcher, Shields would give either the Angels or the Braves a big jump hitting the pennant stretch.
Bourjos, a talented player (he’s considered a solid hitter who’s hit a patch of inconsistency this season, and a jewel of a center fielder; some think he may be the third best defencive center fielder in baseball or close enough to that), who seems to have had a problem finding the right spot on the Angels, especially with the advent of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, has been a trade rumour topic almost since the day he hit the show.
Even as the potential deal for Shields hit the wires running, there was further speculation that Bourjos was a target of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Angels are also looking for bullpen help, and if the Cardinals like Bourjos the Angels might want Marc Rzepczynski, a postseason hero in 2011, in return.
Last week, Bourjos kidded about his apparent frequent appearances in trade rumours:
This is the most relaxed I’ve ever been at the trade deadline because I’ve been through it so many times. Whatever happens, happens. If I’m traded, I’ll go to a team that wants me, that needs me. But hopefully, I can play my whole career here.
Among others, Bourjos was once thought to be going to the Toronto Blue Jays, when the Angels had eyes for Roy Halladay before the Philadelphia Phillies snagged him.