Trade makes room for Calhoun in right field
Halos deal away Bourjos, shifting Trout back to center, Hamilton to left
ANAHEIM -- You're up, Kole Calhoun.
Friday's trade with the Cardinals, which sent center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk to St. Louis in exchange for third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas, was geared primarily towards the Angels' needs at the hot corner.
But it was facilitated by their belief that Calhoun can be an everyday right fielder in 2014.
Bourjos' departure means Mike Trout moves to center field and Josh Hamilton slides over to left, putting their two star players in spots where they're more comfortable. And moving into right field will be Calhoun, the fiery left-handed hitter who surged over the regular season's last two months.
"This gives Pete an opportunity to go play," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "We felt like coming into this season, with the way Kole Calhoun finished last year and really sunk his teeth in the second half, and Mike Trout being a pretty good alternative for us in center field, and Josh Hamilton going back to his natural position in left, is really the logical solution for us. And understanding that we had other holes to fill and needs that we wanted to address, this we felt was a very logical move to make for us."
J.B. Shuck turned in a very solid, somewhat surprising, rookie season while getting a lot of playing time in left field, batting .293 with a .331 on-base percentage and 20 doubles. But Shuck currently projects as a fourth outfielder, because the Angels like Calhoun's upside.
Taken in the eighth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State University, Calhoun appeared in 21 Major League games in his second full season of pro ball. He lost out to Shuck for the fourth outfield spot last spring, then missed more than a month with a broken hamate bone in his right hand.
Upon returning to the lineup, though, Calhoun went on a tear.
He batted .354/.430/.620 with 12 homers over a 58-game stretch, displaying rare power for a player of his stature (he's listed at a generous 5-foot-10). In late July, Calhoun got called back up to the Majors and batted .282/.347/.462 the rest of the way, adding eight homers and posting an .889 OPS against lefties.
"Kole's a good baseball player," Dipoto said. "He does a lot of things well. He defends, he throws, he throws accurately, is a good baserunner, he swings, he's got patience, he gets on base, he's got power. Last year, he was able to show that those were skills that translated at the Major League level. In order for Kole to improve, Kole has to get the opportunity to play, and this will be a good opportunity."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.