When it comes to our outfield in 2015, we have a ton of candidates for two spots (Matt Holliday and his huge contract are entrenched in left).
So what do we do?
Well it all depends on how other teams look at things. I’m going with the assumption that teams are looking at present value, not future value.
Going with that assumption, we have two arbitration eligible players, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. Bourjos started slow but has come on a bit of late, while Jay has been on fire the entire second half. My suggestion would be trading the more valuable of the two, which is Jay. Jay will be coming off of a career year if he continues his current trend, can play multiple OF positions, and is in his prime. He’s also older, meaning what you see is what you get. Bourjos, being two years younger, may have a small bit of developing left. Plus above average defensive CF’s are hard to find. Dangling Jay for pitching, prospects or a platoon partner for Matt Adams (Sorry Xavier Scruggs) and letting Bourjos and the prospects battle it our for the other 2 OF spots seems to make plenty of sense.
What doesn’t make sense to me is trading those prospects, especially since:
1) They’re alot cheaper, which is important for a pretty budget conscious team. We’re not the A’s or Rays, but we watch our money pretty well. If a combo of two or even three of them can match Jay’s production and cost less, trading Jay is the way to go.
2) Contrary to popular belief, none of the prospects, not even Oscar Taveras, has been given enough time to prove themselves.
3) We have five (five!) candidates for two spots *after* we trade Jay or Bourjos. This allows us to maybe package one with Jay in a trade, trade one seperately, or send all five to spring training for a a battle royale. We’ve got options.
Back to Jay vs Bourjos. As I said, Jay has been more valuable, but not as much more than Bourjos as everyone believes. Jay’s currently worth 2.4 WAR in just 358 AB’s, which projects to 4 WAR if he got 600 AB’s. Well Bourjos has 1.7 WAR in 267 AB’s, which projects to 3.8 WAR over 600 AB’s. Projections, of course, are always risky as they often don’t pan out or in some cases are exceeded. Still, it gives you an idea what the two have been worth this year. So Bourjos, if his solid production in the second half carries over into next year, can at least marginally replace Jay. I ‘d really miss Jay’s OBP skills though, especially if he builds off of this years .387 OBP. That also leads to the internal debate of which you’d rather have, as quite a bit of Bourjos’ value is tied to speed and defense, while Jays’ value is tied to his ability to get on base. That debate is a well worn one, so I won’t get into it here.
I’d miss Jay, as he’s been a key part of the Cardinals the last few years, but I’d enjoy watching the prospects develop at the big league level. Seeing if Oscar Taveras develops into the all around hitter he’s projected to be, or watching Randall Grichuk and seeing if his power projects to the big leagues. And those are just two examples.
Just some food for thought. Who knows what Mo will do. He may not trade either, or both. We’ll see.
As always, thanks for reading.