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Rays Trade Target: Peter Bourjos

The Rays can afford to patiently sit back and allow the next four games pass while monitoring the trade deadline deals that are made by the Texas Rangers, LA Angels, LA Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and a few other teams. All the while Andrew Friedman is fielding calls on either James Shields , Wade Davis, and many other Rays players.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes that "with Jeff Niemann due back next month, the Rays feel that they are in a positon to trade a starter and still contend." He goes on to mention Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, and Wade Davis. One AL Scout mentioned in the Shermann piece believes that if Zack Greinke lands with the Rangers that talks between the Halos and Rays will intensify and one of the names mentioned in Peter Bourjos.

Borjous has been a Draysbay favorite since his minor league days and I believe he is a perfect target for the Rays organization. First he is young and controllable for a number of years. He is 25 and will only be 26 on opening day 2013. He is still a year plus away from the arbitration process and would be under team control through the 2016 season.

Of course, being cheap and controllable are two attributes the Rays like but those have to be paired with a skill set that matches the Rays needs. This is where a trade centered around Bourjos makes the most sense for the Rays.

With it all but etched in stone that B.J. Upton's days roaming centerfield for the Rays are finished Borjous would be an excellent replacement. He has blazing speed to cover the gaps and for all centerfielders with 400 or more innings playes at the position this year has an impressive league leading UZR/150 of 38.5. The Rays outfield defense certainly wouldnt' be affected by the departure of Upton if Borjous takes his place.

Borjous has blazing speed and is a threat to steal but as the saying goes - you can't steal first base. He is struggling in 2012 hitting .231/.290/.336 with only 2 homers, 2 stolen bases, but still has a positive 1.5 fWAR. This is a dropoff from a very promising 2011 season where he hit .271/.327/.438 with 12 homers, stole 22 bases, and scored 72 runs and posted a 4.3 fWAR.

One reason for the decline in prodcution may be his new role as a bench player. With the Angels employing Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, and Torri Hunter in their outfield Borjous is trying to adjust to not being an everyday player and that transition doesn't appear to be a smooth one.

It's also possible that the lack of plate discipline is finally catching up to him. In his 455 AAA plate appearances he had a walk rate of 5.3% and a strikeout rate of 17.1%. In 2011 his strikeout rate increased to 22.5% and his walk rate remained relatively low at 5.8% but his numbers were carried by a BABIP of .338. In 2012 the high strikeout rate reamins at 22% and his walk rate has increased slightly to 6.4% but his BABIP has dropped to .281.

A nice scouting report on Borjous was provided by R.J. Anderson over at the Process Report:

Bourjos is a well above-average defender and runner. If his bat develops, he could become an archetypal leadoff man. The flaws in Bourjos’ game are a lack of power and iffy plate discipline. He can hit fastballs, he just expands his zone on secondary pitches too often right now. Bourjos gets high grades for character, in part because of his genes—his father presently scouts for the Padres. - The Process Report

Peter Borjous is still a work in progress and if the Rays were to acquire him would still have to go through some growing pains with him. He certainly has a skill set that is worth getting excited about and acquiring him (along with others) for James Shields or for Wade Davis would not hurt the Rays chances of competing in 2012 and would solidify the outfield heading into 2013.