The Phillies have claimed center fielder Peter Bourjos off waivers from the Cardinals, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (links to Twitter). The Phillies have since announced the move, adding that right-handed reliever Nefi Ogando has been claimed off waivers by the Marlins.
The claim of Bourjos gives the Phillies a defensively gifted center fielder that has a year of club control remaining at a modest (projected) salary of $1.8MM. The Phillies had the top waiver priority this offseason, meaning Bourjos was nabbed by the first team to which he was made available. That, perhaps, shouldn’t come as a total surprise considering the fact that new Phillies GM Matt Klentak was a longtime assistant GM with the organization that drafted and developed Bourjos — the Angels.
St. Louis originally acquired Bourjos and then-prospect Randal Grichuk from the Angels in a deal that sent David Freese and Fernando Salas to the Angels. Bourjos was deemed expendable in Anaheim due to the presence of Mike Trout in center field and Kole Calhoun and Josh Hamilton on the outfield corners. Bourjos, though, received inconsistent playing time in St. Louis and struggled to produce at the plate with the Cardinals, batting just .218/.292/.342 in 519 plate appearances. He also underwent hip surgery last offseason.
That operation may or may not have contributed to Bourjos’ uncharacteristically below-average defensive ratings in 2015. Long considered a premium defender with excellent speed, Bourjos posted Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating marks of -4 and -3.4, respectively, in 476 innings in center field. He’s been outstanding in every other season of his career, however, totaling 36 runs saved in 3761 career innings to go along with a UZR/150 of +16.1.
There’s some upside in Bourjos’ bat, as evidenced by a .271/.327/.438 batting line posted back in 2011, though he’s now four seasons removed from that type of production. A move to the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park should help his offense, though. Bourjos, who turns 29 at the end of next Spring Training, will be in the mix for considerably more at-bats than he received in St. Louis. He’ll be joined by Odubel Herrera and Cody Asche as potential starters, and young Aaron Altherr, too, figures to receive consideration as well.
In Ogando, the Phillies have lost (and the Marlins have gained) a 26-year-old righty with a blistering fastball but a questionable secondary pitch and questionable control. Ogando averaged 95.5 mph on his fastball in a brief, four-inning Major League debut last season. He did post a strong 2.86 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2015, but he averaged just 7.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 in spite of his strong velocity. The Marlins will look to harness his control in an effort to better translate his heat to missed bats and, ideally, strong results at the big league level.