Could Peter Bourjos be a Fit in the Outfield for the Mets?

By Matt Musico

Absolutely. Earlier in the week, I talked about potential trade targets in the outfield for the Mets, which include Josh Willingham and Shin-Soo Choo. In a comment below that article a reader mentioned about the possibility of Peter Bourjos being available this winter if the Angels are able to re-sign free agent outfielder Torii Hunter.

Now, I know you probably just googled Bourjos to see the statistics from 2012 and you’re underwhelmed, to say the least. However, Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog pointed out that the young outfielder battled hip issues throughout the season, which likely aided to his disappointing .220/.291/.315 line with only 3 stolen bases.

July 25, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos (25) hits a single in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

In his one full season as a starter with the Angels (which came in 2011), he showed he has the ability to be a force at the top of a Major League lineup. In 147 games played and 502 at-bats, Bourjos put together an impressive .271/.327/.438 line, which included 12 homers, 43 RBI, 22 stolen bases, and 72 runs scored, while also collecting 26 doubles and 11 triples.

Unlike Andres Torres this past season, who was trying to bounce back from a 2011 where he hit .221, Bourjos will be trying to bounce back and return to form as a 25-year-old, whereas Torres was attempting to do the same, but being nine years older. The talent ceiling for Bourjos’ is still high, and it can be argued that his best years are yet to come. To help his case for the Mets, there are three things about him that likely gets the front office excited.

One, he hits from the right side and can be a legitimate presence at the top of the order; two, he’s under team control until 2017 and won’t even become arbitration-eligible until 2014; three, due to his disappointing season, his trade value is lower than what it was after the 2011 season. However, Bourjos being available to be traded will depend on whether or not the Angels can bring back Hunter on a short-term deal. According to Cerrone, the free agent is expected to draw interest from the Rangers and Yankees, but from what I’ve heard, there is mutual interest on the two sides agreeing on a one- or two-year deal. So, it’s probably only a matter of time before a contract is agreed upon, leaving Bourjos as the odd man out.

Looking at all of these factors, he could fit very nicely for the Mets in center field and at the top of the lineup. However, although the Mets need some more team speed, they desperately need some more power, and Alderson made that known towards the end of the season. If I had to choose one or the other, I would choose power. Honestly, if the Mets didn’t acquire someone with speed this winter, I would be comfortable putting Ruben Tejada at the top of the order again in 2013; having a tendency to get on base and be a smart base runner should be more important than having the ability to steal bases.

If Bourjos does become available, Alderson should be inquiring about his status immediately, but as a personal preference, I want to see them make a push for someone like Willingham first. Although the organization continues to say they don’t have much room to spend, the Wilpons are going to have to sacrifice a little money to drastically change the look of this roster. If they can get 30+ homers and 100+ RBI for $7 million (what Willingham is due to earn in ’13) a year, and have him under control through 2014, that’s a bargain. Plus, it’s rumored the Angels may be looking for a healthy package of prospects for him. So, if New York is going to give up a few pieces to get a legit outfield bat, they might as well go for someone with some power.

Comparing and contrasting aside, acquiring any of these outfielders would be an extreme upgrade to any the Mets ran out in 2012, and I would be more than happy with seeing any of them in the Orange and Blue next season. Who do you think Alderson should be targeting the most, Willingham, Choo, or Bourjos?