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.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.
The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.
It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.
According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.