Cardinals trade David Freese to Angels for Peter Bourjos

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UPDATE: Well, that progressed from rumor to trade in a hurry. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Angels have traded center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk to the Cardinals for third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas.

Obviously the Angels are betting that Freese will bounce back following a down 2013 and the Cardinals were willing to let him go because they have prospect Kolten Wong ready to take over at second base with Matt Carpenter shifting to third base. Meanwhile, the arrival of Bourjos presumably means Jon Jay will be on the way out of St. Louis at some point.

Freese hit .262 with nine homers and a .721 OPS in 138 games this year, which is 60 points of OPS below his career mark. Salas will likely slide into a middle relief role for the Angels after posting a 3.42 ERA and 186/69 K/BB ratio in 192 innings for the Cardinals.

Bourjos is a career .251 hitter with a .704 OPS, which is about 50 points below Jay’s lifetime mark, but the gap between them defensively is huge. Grichuk was the Angels’ first-round pick in 2009 and has shown good power with questionable strike-zone judgment while advancing to Double-A.

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Following yesterday’s report that the Angels are talking to the Cardinals about third baseman David Freese, now Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that the other side of the deal may involve center fielder Peter Bourjos.

St. Louis is looking to replace Jon Jay, who’s getting expensive and coming off a brutal postseason performance defensively, and Bourjos is one of the truly elite defensive center fielders in baseball. Of course, on the Angels he could be replaced in center field by some guy named Mike Trout.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.