St. Louis Cardinals OF Peter Bourjos Claimed on Waivers by Philadelphia Phillies


Bourjos, whose role had been reduced to that of a pinch runner and late-inning defensive specialist, was one of eight outfielders on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster.

Lots of MLB roster activity is occurring on Wednesday with the league’s non-tender deadline approaching at midnight, and the St. Louis Cardinals have gotten involved in the action. After backup catcher Tony Cruz was traded to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday morning, the Cards shed another veteran from their roster on Wednesday afternoon, as it was announced that outfielder Peter Bourjos was claimed on waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Bourjos was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim two winters ago in exchange for David Freese and Fernando Salas, and the idea at the time was that he would displace Jon Jay as the Cardinals’ center fielder. That plan never quite came to fruition, however. Bourjos started out his Cardinals career in a massive slump, hitting .160 during April of 2014, and quickly fell behind Jay, who had a spectacular 2014 season and went on to hit .303/.372/.378 for the year. Ironically though, the man who now looks to be the Cardinals’ long-term starter in center is the player who was the “throw-in” on the Angels’ end of the deal, 24-year-old Randal Grichuk.

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In fairness to Bourjos, he was playing through a hip impingement in 2014 which limited his effectiveness for part of the year and required surgery following the season. He didn’t exactly do a lot to re-establish himself during spring training of 2015, going 7-for-47 at the plate, but after looking like a solid bench player during April and May, he seemed to enter Mike Matheny‘s doghouse by June and was largely limited to pinch-running and late-inning defensive replacement duties for the rest of the season. By the time the summer came around, there were even situations where it would have made sense for Matheny to double-switch with Bourjos coming into the game, but he instead chose to leave the lineup how it was, leaving the pitcher’s spot ahead of Bourjos’s in the order.

Bourjos, who hit .200/.290/.333 in 195 at-bats, was left off the Cardinals’ playoff roster while Jay and Tommy Pham stuck, which seemed to be the writing on the wall for the ending of his Cardinals career. With the recent addition of prospects Anthony Garcia and Charlie Tilson to the 40-man roster, it seemed to be another clear sign that Bourjos wasn’t in the Cardinals’ plans for 2016.

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Bourjos was very much on the outside looking in with regards to making the Cardinals’ big-league roster in 2016. Grichuk, Pham, Jay, Stephen Piscotty, and Matt Holliday all had better chances at staying in the majors, and that’s not even factoring in the presence of first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss, who is likely to be retained for 2016, and the possible re-signing of free agent right fielder Jason Heyward.

While the decision to pick up Bourjos is a little bit surprising considering that the Phillies have gone towards an aggressive, youth-based rebuild since Andy MacPhail took over as President of Baseball Operations in late June, it fits the profile of what they’ve done in the outfield in recent seasons. Within the past two years, the Phillies have taken chances on dumpster-dive types such as Jeff Francoeur, Grady Sizemore, Tony Gwynn, Jr., and Marlon Byrd. Some of those gambles, particularly Byrd, have been successful, and the Phillies will hope they can get similar value out of Bourjos, a player who was once considered a starting-caliber center fielder but didn’t really even cut it as a reserve in 2015.

Next: Cardinals Sign Brayan Pena to Two-Year Contract

Check out our Cardinals page for more offseason news, especially in advance of tonight’s non-tender deadline.