We detailed earlier today that Peter Bourjos seems to have gone missing. Now tonight we find that multiple teams are looking for him.
The Los Angeles Angels center fielder hasn’t played much since the Angels called up uber-prospect Mike Trout from the minors, losing ground in a crowded outfield race that also includes Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and an occasional dose of Mark Trumbo.
Bourjos has hurt himself with his struggles at the plate this season, turning himself from a passable-bat, supreme speed/defense guy into merely a supreme speed/defense guy. But he’s still only 25 and his positives and potential make him quite valuable.
Thus, it’s not surprising that some teams are beginning to sniff around. As Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports reports:
The Nationals and Angels have had preliminary discussions about a trade that would send center fielder Peter Bourjos to Washington, major-league sources told FOXSports.com.
The Royals, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays also have checked on the availability of Bourjos, sources say.
Morosi reports that it’s unclear how far along talks are, but that the Angels are surely looking for bullpen help and perhaps a catcher now that Chris Iannetta is facing an extended absence.
Hunter’s contract is up after this season, so that could potentially clear up room in the outfield. But the Angels are likely stuck with Wells through 2014. So in that respect, it sort of makes sense to deal Bourjos. But it could be painful nonetheless for Angels fans down the line if Bourjos ever figures things out at the plate.
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Adam Kennedy, whose $2 million option for 2011 was declined by the Nationals last month, has agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training from the Mariners.
Kennedy started 85 games for the Nationals last season, including 75 at second base, but hit just .249 with a .327 on-base percentage and .327 slugging percentage while failing to crack a .700 OPS for the third time in four years.
At age 35 he’s likely nearing the end of the line, but Kennedy may still be useful as a platoon player or bench bat limited mostly to facing right-handed pitching. There’s an opportunity for him to work his way into the picture at second base if he thrives this spring or Brendan Ryan struggles, as the Mariners will basically just be keeping the position warm for top prospect Dustin Ackley’s arrival sometime around midseason.
Adam LaRoche and the Nationals made things official this afternoon, as Washington announced a two-year contract with the veteran first baseman.
He’ll get $7 million in 2011 and $8 million in 2012, and the deal also includes a $10 million mutual option or $1 million buyout for 2012. In other words, he’s guaranteed $16 million for two seasons.
Washington has made upgrading the defense a priority this offseason and going from Adam Dunn to LaRoche at first base will definitely help the team’s run prevention in a big way, but the downgrade offensively is likely even bigger.
During the past three seasons LaRoche has hit .269 with 75 homers and an .823 OPS, while Dunn has hit .255 with 116 homers and a .906 OPS. Of course, the price tags are also much different, as Dunn signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the White Sox.
Carl Pavano has been linked to the Nationals for nearly the entire offseason, with recent reports suggesting that he’s basically narrowed his choices down to Washington or Minnesota, but in talking to Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post yesterday general manager Mike Rizzo surprisingly downplayed the Nationals’ interest:
I hear we are “the finalist” along with the Twins. We’ve never spoken to Pavano and we haven’t talked to his agent since the winter meetings.
The “we’ve never spoken to Pavano” part is essentially meaningless, because as Rizzo indicated any contract talks would technically go through his agent. However, the notion that the Nationals “haven’t talked to his agent since the winter meetings” in early December is hugely surprisingly given the constant stream of reports since then linking Pavano and the Nationals.
Rizzo is either playing coy and being intentionally misleading regarding the Nationals’ pursuit of Pavano or the Twins should be considered heavy favorites to re-sign the 35-year-old right-hander.
As soon as Derrek Lee signed with Baltimore it seemed inevitable that fellow free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche would end up in Washington, and sure enough Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals and LaRoche are close to agreeing on a two-year contract.
LaRoche would replace Adam Dunn at first base, which is a big upgrade defensively and an even bigger downgrade offensively. LaRoche has hit .271 with an .827 OPS for his career, including .261 with 25 homers and a .788 OPS this season. Dunn has at least 38 homers in seven straight seasons, has never had an OPS below .800, and beats LaRoche’s career OPS by 75 points. And while Dunn’s detractors often point to his high strikeout totals, LaRoche whiffed 172 times in 2010.
Dunn signed with the White Sox for $56 million over four years, so LaRoche will come significantly cheaper, but the Nationals are still likely to overpay for a slightly above average first baseman and certainly haven’t gotten any better with the switch.