While it wasn’t a bombshell like a Jose Quintana trade that some may have expected at Sox Fest, the White Sox did sign a free agent on Thursday, and as the headline indicates, it was Peter Bourjos on a minor league deal. There are very few situations where a minor league deal can be a bad one–it would have to be something where the player had done something horrible off the field, or they’re a player a manager will be tempted to use when they really shouldn’t.
As you might imagine, a player coming off his age-29 season being available for a minor league deal probably isn’t rattling off one All-Star appearance after another. Bourjos broke in with the Angels in 2010 as an excellent defender in centerfield with the potential to maybe hit one day. The very next year, he hit an excellent .271/.327/.438 with a league-leading 11 triples, and all of a sudden people started wondering if he could be a plus bat while playing great defense at a premium position.
Sadly, his glove and bat would both deteriorate for a long enough period of time that…well, here he is. For a rebuilding team, however, he makes a lot of sense. Barring change, Charlie Tilson is clearly Plan A for center field, as it remains to be seen whether he can be a good fourth outfielder or a second division starter. But, as we have learned, people get hurt, and specifically Tilson has gotten hurt in very recent memory. It also provides another layer of insulation between such an injury and the need to call up Adam Engel or Jacob May, both of which could use at least another half season in the high minors and possibly more.
The priority for a rebuilding team is making sure they can evaluate and maximize the development of their pieces that will be significant going forward, and to hoard as much value as possible. Part of that is making sure that your pitching staff has a competent defense behind them so as not to sabotage their confidence.
Bourjos provides a backup plan at all three outfield spots such that if Lucas Giolito or Carson Fulmer gets a fly ball into the gap that should be caught, it probably will be. That’s a good thing and costs basically nothing.
Lead Image Credit: Bill Streicher // USA Today Sports Images