Peter Bourjos has started just two of the Angels’ last nine games as the combination of his poor first two months and Mike Trout’s arrival pushed the Opening Day center fielder to the bench.
Bourjos is an amazing defensive center fielder who last season hit well enough to be one of the best all-around outfielders in the league, but he’s lost 200 points of OPS so far this season and apparently the Angels would rather have the 25-year-old collect dust than play regularly at Triple-A.
“Peter has a role on our team and he’s going to help us win games, although it’s not a role he had last year,” manager Mike Scioscia told Trey Scott of MLB.com. “It’s difficult for a young player that has the ability to play every day but isn’t in there, but Peter is going to help us win games.”
Last year Bourjos started 138 of 162 games and logged 552 plate appearances. This year he’s on pace to start just 77 games and log 292 plate appearances, which is an awfully odd approach to take with a very promising young outfielder even if the Angels are forced to make some less than idea playing time decisions because of their glut of corner bats.
Scioscia is essentially locked in to Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Torii Hunter as the everyday outfield, with Albert Pujols at first base and Kendrys Morales at designated hitter. All five of those guys are plenty productive, so the fact that Bourjos isn’t starting over one of them regularly should be less up for debate than whether playing at Triple-A is better than sitting in the majors.
And every team in need of a long-term center fielder should be calling Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto about Bourjos constantly.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.