Now that the dust has settled, let's take a look around at some reactions to today's important deal sending third baseman David Freese and righty Fernando Salas to the Angels in exchange for center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk.
- For a broad account of the deal, including some reactions from participants, see this piece from MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. Cards' GM John Mozeliak emphasized that the club pulled the trigger to add speed and center field capability, while noting that Grickhuk's inclusion was a "critical" factor in getting the deal done.
- Though Mozeliak said that a veteran second bagger could still be brought in, he also indicated that the club was prepared to rely primarily on Kolten Wong. Meanwhile, top prospect Oscar Taveras could see time in right field and play a bench role, leaving the club with what Mozeliak calls "more flexibility moving forward," reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Sulia).
- While the two sides discussed including shortstop Erick Aybar, writes Goold, the asking price was too steep for Mozeliak to bite. With both the Orioles and now the Angels having dangled a shortstop at St. Louis from a position of strength, and the expected free agent money for the few attractive options going higher by the day, Goold says we are seeing a clear seller's market at the position. His Post-Dispatch colleague Bernie Miklasz says that the Angels were eyeing Shelby Miller, making Mozeliak's refusal understandable.
- Miklasz was among the many who liked this deal for the Cards. As he put it: "Mozeliak did a good job here. It's as simple as that. He received plus value and added youth, speed and defense — and saved payroll – in moving an expendable player in Freese."
- From the Halos' perspective, GM Jerry Dipoto said that his club "feel[s] like we're getting one of the most productive third base bats in baseball over the last three years," tweets the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin. As Shaikin later noted, Freese does rank tenth in composite OPS out of the 21 players with at least 1,000 hot corner plate appearances since 2011. Dipoto also said that Freese "knows how to drive in the important run" and "provides what we think is a more-than-acceptable solution" to the team's third base hole, as MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports in his write-up of the deal. Looking back, Mozeliak explained that Freese's magical 2011 run of success raised expectations to an unsustainable point and makes a fresh start a good idea, MLB.com's Gonzalez reports via Twitlonger.
- With relatively little open salary space and a major starting pitching void in Anaheim, Shaikin indicates that this deal carries a lot of risk for Dipoto. Other trade candidates like Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick have not sparked interest from other teams that would consider parting with young starting pitching, Shaikin says, and Aybar was not enough (yet, at least) to get St. Louis to budge on one of its prime young arms. Yet by sending out Bourjos, whose low cost, good defense, and fairly high floor would have appealed to a wide range of other clubs, the Angels have parted with a player that could have been a significant piece in a deal for a new arm.
- Even while casting doubt on Bourjos's ability to replicate his 2011 campaign at the dish, ESPN.com's Keith Law (Insider link) likes it for the Cards, though he notes that Freese has enough power upside that the deal could ultimately turn out well for the Halos.
- For Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, who rates Bourjos as at least a three-win player while noting that his career Isolated Slugging mark is higher than that of Freese, the swap is a clear win for St. Louis. His takeaway: "The Angels needed a third baseman, I guess, but they traded a good player for a worse player who costs more."
- MLBTR's Steve Adams nicely summed up the trade: "All told, the Angels are dealing three years of Bourjos and one of their top prospects for two years of Freese and three years of Salas in addition to agreeing to take on roughly $4MM in additional salary in the 2014 season." From that perspective, particularly given that the Cards got the younger players, it is tough not to like it for St. Louis — even if you are relatively high on Freese as a bounceback player and think that Bourjos has a limited ceiling. (For what it's worth, 2014 Steamer projections expect 2.3 WAR for Freese over 535 plate appearances and 2.6 WAR over 493 plate appearances for Bourjos.) It is worth noting that the low likely starting point for Bourjos's arbitration salary, along with his generally meager home run and RBI output, mean that he will very likely be on a lower arbitration salary arc than Freese for the rest of his years of eligibility.