The St. Louis Cardinals looked ahead rather than backward when making a major trade on November 22. The club dealt away two top 2011 contributors and got younger in an attempt to improve their 2014 play in centerfield.
Salas, 28, had spent much of 2013 at Triple-A Memphis, having been passed by other pitchers in the Cardinals relief hierarchy after being unable to replicate his strong 2011.
Like Salas, Freese was arbitration-eligible. The 30-year-old was due for a raise after a pair of disappointing seasons as the Cardinals’ every-day player at the hot corner. Freese will be replaced at third base by Matt Carpenter, with rookie Kolten Wong the front-runner to take over second.
The right-handed hitting Bourjos, 26, is considered to be a Gold Glove-caliber defender, having made just seven errors in over 2,500 innings played. He will likely be the new starter in centerfield, replacing Jon Jay. Bourjos has three more seasons under team control before potentially becoming free agent eligible following the 2016 season.
Grichuk, 22, was the Angels’ first round selection (24th overall) in the 2009 draft, taken one pick ahead of Mike Trout. The Texan was the Halos’ sixth-ranked prospect prior to this season, according to Baseball America. Bringing power potential to a system that is relatively weak in that area, I expect Grichuk to join Stephen Piscotty and James Ramsey in a star-studded Memphis outfield for 2014.