November 22, 2013: Cardinals trade Freese and Salas for Bourjos and Grichuk

Less than 25 months after David Freese’s game-winning home run landed in the grass beyond the center-field wall at Busch Stadium to end Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, the Cardinals traded their hometown hero and the architect of the greatest postseason moment in franchise history.

On November 22, 2013, the Cardinals traded Freese and relief pitcher Fernando Salas to the Angels for outfielders Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.

“It’s bittersweet in a sense – closing this chapter on my hometown,” Freese said.[1]

The Cardinals and Angels had been discussing the deal for several weeks before it was finalized. While the deal always included Freese and Bourjos, at times the negotiations included Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, who would have replaced the light-hitting Pete Kozma in the Cardinals’ lineup. The Cardinals, however, were unwilling to include the pitchers the Angels sought in exchange. [2]

By moving Freese, who had made $3.15 million in 2013 and was projected to make $4.4 million through arbitration in 2014,[3] the Cardinals freed up third base for Matt Carpenter, who had hit .318 with 78 RBIs as an all-star second baseman that season. Carpenter’s shift, in turn, opened second base for rookie Kolten Wong, who had hit .303 in Memphis and represented a defensive upgrade over Carpenter at second base.

The addition of Bourjos in center field also improved the Cardinals’ outfield defense.

“It appears that we improved at three positions,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. “What the makeup of this club is offensively, I don’t know what we’ve given up yet or what we’re gaining. We haven’t finished putting this roster together yet. … Peter Bourjos has a unique skill set. He’s probably one of the faster guys in the league. He can steal bases. Didn’t get a lot of opportunities in Anaheim. Different league, different place.”[4]

Peter Bourjos

The 26-year-old Bourjos had played in 354 games for the Angels over four seasons with mixed results. In 2011, he enjoyed a breakthrough, batting .271/.327/.438 with 26 doubles, a league-high 11 triples, and 12 homers. In 2012, however, he hit just .167 in March and April and lost his job to Mike Trout.

“In the end, it’s probably better to get a fresh start somewhere else,” Bourjos said. “I had a good year in 2011, but things didn’t work out after that.”[5]

Even after Bourjos struggled in 2012, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto continued to believe in him, so much so that he allowed Torii Hunter to leave as a free agent. Reinserted into the starting lineup, Bourjos hit .313/.392/.457 in April 2013 before he strained his hamstring and missed seven weeks. When he returned, he hit .370/.431/.457 in 18 games before he was hit by a pitch that broke his wrist. He missed a month and a half, and when he returned in August, he hit just .109 in 15 games before he required surgery to insert a pin in his wrist.[6]

“It didn’t play out the way we or Peter hoped,” Dipoto said. “This gives him a chance to play.”[7]

At the time of the trade, Bourjos was still a few weeks away from swinging a bat as he recovered from wrist surgery.

“From where I was at the end of the season to where I am right now, it’s night and day,” he said. “I was in a lot of pain swinging a bat. … When I came back I felt like I had to cheat to catch up to anything. I was in pain when I checked my swing. Even when I made contact, it didn’t feel right.”[8]

In analyzing the trade, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz focused on Bourjos’s elite defensive skill.

“Bourjos is among the best center fielders in baseball,” he wrote. “As Dave Cameron pointed out at FanGraphs, Bourjos is the majors’ highest-rated center fielder (defensively) since 2010. The Cardinals’ outfield defense was horrendous in 2013 – analyst Bill James estimates that poor outfield defense cost the pitchers 27 runs last season – and Bourjos can go get the ball as well, if not better, than anyone.”[9]

Randal Grichuk

In Grichuk, the Cardinals obtained a power-hitting outfielder who won a minor league Gold Glove at Class AA Arkansas the previous year. Grichuk famously was selected 24th overall – one position ahead of Trout – in the 2009 draft. He was coming off a .256/.306/.474 season with 22 homers and 64 RBIs in Class AA after batting .298/.335/.488 in High-A Inland Empire in 2012.

Ultimately, however, the trade was largely about Freese. Mozeliak had brought the Lafayette High School grad back to St. Louis in his first trade as the Cardinals’ general manager, sending Jim Edmonds to the Padres in exchange.

After winning the NLCS and World Series MVP awards in 2011, Freese followed up with an all-star 2012 campaign, batting .293/.372/.467 with 20 homers and 79 RBIs. In 2013, however, Freese was limited by a back injury.[10] His batting line dropped to .262/.340/.381 with nine homers and 60 RBIs, and though the Cardinals returned to the World Series, Freese was unable to replicate his 2011 postseason magic, batting .188 in the NLDS, .190 in the NLCS, and .158 in the World Series.

“You think back to ’11 and our memory of David gets captured in a four-week period when he was just one of the hottest hitters on earth,” Mozeliak said. “Our expectations rose. “What we wanted to keep seeing and believed we could see – at some point it’s hard to live up to those expectations. David growing up in St. Louis, this could not have been the easiest place for him to play given those circumstances.”[11]

Miklasz wrote that during the 2013 World Series, he thought Freese looked dejected, though the hometown hero insisted he was having the time of his life.[12] To Miklasz, the trade was not only good for the Cardinals – it was also good for Freese.

“I truly believe this trade is the best thing for Freese now,” Miklasz wrote. “It wasn’t always easy being David Freese in St. Louis. … In a roundabout way, the fame came to work against him. You can’t be Mr. October in every game. The goodwill evaporates during slumps. The home-run bat goes cold. Then the backlash kicks up.”[13]

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2013

In 2019, Freese, who had undergone two reconstructive surgeries on his ankles in 2010,[14] told St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Derrick Goold that his foot injuries made it impossible for the Cardinals to give him the long-term security he wanted.

“I think two things were inevitable,” he said. “Getting traded and never getting a multi-year deal from St. Louis because of my feet. I think that was a crushing thing for me. Especially after 2011, 2012, and 2013. I had a rough year (in) ’13. But in the back of my mind (I was) assuming that this was all going to come to an end when no one else really understood that. I know my chronic (injury was) going on. So did the Cardinals. I was seeing ahead of where I probably should have been, and should have taken it as it was coming. And really embrace it and enjoy it more, instead of understanding what’s probably coming. I wanted the storybook ending. I wanted 10 years in St. Louis. Hell yeah. That just was never going to happen.”[15]

In Los Angeles, the trade allowed Trout to take over center field, Kole Calhoun to take over the everyday job in right, and Josh Hamilton to man left field. Meanwhile, Freese took over a third base position that previously had been filled by Alberto Callaspo.

“Third base was a question mark and this provides a more than acceptable solution,” Dipoto said. “David knows how to drive in the important runs. That’s something that really fits our lineup.”[16]

In Los Angeles, Freese and Salas were reunited with another member of the Cardinals’ 2011 world championship team – Albert Pujols.[17]

“He welcomed me to the Angels family and I said, ‘Remember what we did the last time we played together? Let’s try to do that again,’” Freese said. “It’s going to be good to get back with him and the rest of the guys. They’re going to want to rebound and get after it from day one.”[18]

Fernando Salas

Salas had enjoyed his best season with the Cardinals as a rookie in 2011. Saving 24 games before Jason Motte emerged to claim the closer’s role, Salas posted a 3.16 ERA and struck out 75 batters over 75 innings. In 2012, he posted a 3.59 ERA over 58 2/3 innings, then pitched just 28 innings in 2013.

“Mozeliak traded expendable talent to freshen his roster with more youth, speed, and increased range on defense,” Miklasz wrote. “He reduced payroll and maintained flexibility for future moves. And he likely lowered his pitching staff’s ERA by tightening a defense that won’t give away so many runs in 2014.”[19]

Bourjos spent two seasons in St. Louis, batting .231/.294/.348 in 264 at-bats in 2014, then hitting just .200/.290/.333 in 2015. After the season, the Phillies signed him off waivers. He played for the Phillies, Rays, and Braves before playing his final major-league season with the Angels in 2019.

Grichuk played four seasons in St. Louis, batting .249/.297/.488 with 66 homers and 182 RBIs. After posting a career-high .877 OPS in 2015, he hit 24 homers and drove in 68 RBIs in 2016. In January 2018, the Cardinals traded Grichuk to the Blue Jays for Dominic Leone and Conner Greene. In Toronto, he hit a career-high 31 homers in 2019.

Salas pitched four seasons with the Angels, posting a 3.93 ERA over 192 1/3 innings. He pitched for the Mets, Diamondbacks, and Phillies, making his most recent big-league appearance in 2019.

Freese played two seasons in Los Angeles, batting .258/.322/.401 with 24 homers and 111 RBIs over that span. In 2016, he signed with the Pirates and made his return to the National League. With each return to St. Louis, he was greeted by standing ovations and warm welcomes.

In 2018, the Pirates traded him to the Dodgers. He played his final season with the Dodgers in 2019. He retired after 11 major-league seasons, totaling 113 homers, 535 RBIs, and a storied place in Cardinals lore.


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[1] Derrick Goold, “Freese Gone,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2013.

[2] Derrick Goold, “Freese Gone,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2013.

[3] Mike DiGiovanna, “Angels trade Bourjos, ease logjam,” Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2013.

[4] Derrick Goold, “Freese Gone,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2013.

[5] Mike DiGiovanna, “Angels trade Bourjos, ease logjam,” Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2013.

[6] Mike DiGiovanna, “Angels trade Bourjos, ease logjam,” Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2013.

[7] Mike DiGiovanna, “Angels trade Bourjos, ease logjam,” Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2013.

[8] Derrick Goold, “Freese Gone,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2013.

[9] Bernie Miklasz, “Redbirds look like big winners with this deal,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2013.

[10] Derrick Goold, “Freese Gone,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2013.

[11] Bernie Miklasz, “For Freese, Game 6 was mixed blessing,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 24, 2013.

[12] Bernie Miklasz, “For Freese, Game 6 was mixed blessing,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 24, 2013.

[13] Bernie Miklasz, “For Freese, Game 6 was mixed blessing,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 24, 2013.

[14] Rick Hummel, “David Freese undergoes reconstructive surgery on ankle,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 7, 2010.

[15] Derrick Goold, “Freese frames his career,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 11, 2019.

[16] Mike DiGiovanna, “Angels trade Bourjos, ease logjam,” Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2013.

[17] Derrick Goold, “Freese Gone,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2013.

[18] Mike DiGiovanna, “Angels trade Bourjos, ease logjam,” Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2013.

[19] Bernie Miklasz, “Redbirds look like big winners with this deal,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 23, 2013.

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