ANAHEIM CA - Peter Bourjos #25 of the Los Angeles Angels puts down a bunt on a squeeze play to score Howie Kendrick #47 for a2-1 lead over the Kansas City Royals during the fifth inning. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
The Angels have too many center fielders; the Nationals don't have enough. Isn't there something they can do to help each other out?
Bryce Harper gets a great share of the teenage-wunderkind hype, but Mike Trout is just as worthy of the slavish adulation he receives. Trout is a 20-year-old with power, speed, and defense. His upside is something like Bobby Abreu in his prime after mainlining liquid Willie Mays on the surface of Krypton.
But as of right now, he's blocked. Well, "blocked" is probably the wrong word to use. The Angels have a center fielder -- Peter Bourjos -- who is good enough to allow them some patience with Trout, who for all his talents is still really, really young. He's basically a zygote on the baseball timeline, and some AAA time wouldn't hurt him.
Patience is so laaaaame, though. I want to watch Trout! You want to watch Trout! Mike Trout in the majors! Don't make us start a letter-writing campaign, Angels. Those things always work. But in order to get Mike Trout in the majors, the Angels would have to trade an outfielder. Vernon Wells is one of the most untradeable players in all of sports. This time we mean it. Torii Hunter is still a pretty danged good player, so the Angels certainly aren't looking to move him to make room for a rookie who probably can't match Hunter's production right away.
That leaves Bourjos, a good player whose value might be at an all-time high. According to Baseball Reference, Bourjos's defense was good enough to make him worth five wins above replacement-- there were three free agents this offseason who finished between five and six WAR, and only Jose Reyes didn't get a contract worth more than $200 million. That's the good news. The bad news is that there's a plexiglass principle at work here, too -- when a surprising player has a surprisingly valuable season, don't be surprised if he regresses a bit in the next season. This could be as valuable as Bourjos gets.
There aren't a whole lot of teams looking for a center fielder right now, though. Certainly not enough to start a bidding war. The Marlins might be interested, though they'd probably prefer to hold on to their players and just spend money on Yoenis Cespedes,. There are certainly any number of lesser teams that might want a young center fielder like Bourjos, such as the Astros, Mariners, or White Sox, but they wouldn't want to give up the farm when they aren't planning to contend immediately.
The best fit would be with the Nationals, who are looking to contend now. The Nats' plan is to start Roger Bernadina, whose major accomplishment thus far has been leading the league in DTFHSROOR (Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Songs Reminded Of Over Replacement). As a starting center fielder, though, he's probably overtaxed.
FanGraphs took down talk of Bourjos for John Lannan, countering that Jordan Zimmermann would be a better return. That's probably a little too favorable for the Angels, though, so let's split the difference:
For all the talk about the Angels needing a fifth starter, Jerome Williams did well enough for them last year, and he was a Venezuelan League star in the offseason. The Angels' second righty out of the pen, though, is LaTroy Hawkins, who has been alternating poor, injury-filled seasons with good ones for the last four years. He's been inconsistent ever since he came up with the Colt .45s. Trading a position player for a reliever is almost always a goofy idea, but if the Angels are going to do it, they might as well get one of the best setup men in baseball, which Clippard has been.
Solis is a left-handed pitching prospect included because trading a position player for a reliever is almost always a goofy idea. There's no getting around that. Solis would likely start in AA and double as organizational depth for the short term.
The real answer for the Angels would be to bury Vernon Wells under a pile of powdered Gatorade at the end of the bench, which would allow for some illegal-in-32-states UZR porn from Trout, Bourjos, and Hunter, but that's too simple to work. And it's not nearly as much fun to talk about. Just be thankful that I didn't go with my Zimmerman(n)s-for-Mike Trout idea to troll the Internet.
Gavin Floyd to the Royals
James Shields to the Blue Jays
Bryce Harper to the Cubs