ST. LOUIS (AP) —Former World Series MVP David Freese was traded from his hometown St. Louis Cardinals to the Los Angeles Angels in a four-player deal Friday that reunites Albert Pujols with a pair of ex-teammates
The Cardinals also sent reliever Fernando Salas to the Angels and received a pair of outfielders: Peter Bourjos and prospect Randal Grichuk.
"We are excited to be adding the outfield defense and speed that Bourjos provides, and Grichuk is a top prospect who will be in the mix with some of our other top position players such as Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "We wish both David and Fernando the best and thank them for their contributions - especially the many memorable moments they provided during the 2011 championship season."
Dealing Freese did not come as a surprise.
The 30-year-old was the MVP of the 2011 NL championship series and the World Series, setting a majo -league record with 21 postseason RBIs and hitting a game-ending, 11th-inning home run in Game 6. He injured his back chasing a foul ball into the stands during spring training this year and never hit stride.
Freese batted .262 with nine homers and 60 RBIs, dropoffs from career bests of 20 homers, 79 RBIs and a .293 average the previous year. Freese made $3.15 and is eligible for salary arbitration.
The Angels were a match because they need a third baseman and Freese didn't figure as the long-term solution at third for St. Louis. The Cardinals could move second baseman Matt Carpenter to third, opening a position for former top draft pick Kolten Wong.
Pujols also played on the 2011 title team before signing a $240 million, 10-year deal with the Angels.
The trade adds about $4 million to the payroll of the Angels, who have yet to add starting pitching. Jason Vargas left this week for a $32 million, four-year contract with Kansas City.
The Angels haven't had an accomplished third baseman since Chone Figgins left after the 2009 — their last postseason appearance. Their outfield next season is likely to be Josh Hamiliton in left, Trout in center and Kole Calhoun in right.
Coming off their second World Series appearance in three years, the Cardinals have shed more than $45 million in payroll with Chris Carpenter, Carlos Beltran, Jake Westbrook, Rafael Furcal and Edward Mujica also off the books.
The 28-year-old Salas had 24 saves in 2011, but did not have a major role in the bullpen the last two years and spent part of 2013 in the minors. He was 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 27 games last year.
The 26-year-old Bourjos, set to take over from Jon Jay in center field, was supposed to be the Angels everyday center fielder last year after Los Angeles allowed Torii Hunter to leave and traded Kendrys Morales. Mike Trout was moved to left to accommodate Bourjos, who is a better fielder.
Bourjos missed May with a hamstring strain, then broke his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch in Houston on June 29. He played just 55 games.
A career .251 hitter with speed, Bourjos stole 41 bases in 54 attempts and was among AL leaders with 11 triples, 17 bunt hits and 38 infield hits in 2011.
The 22-year-old Grichuk was the 24th overall selection in the 2009 amateur draft, one ahead of Mike Trout, and starred at Double-A Arkansas last season.
Grichuk had 57 extra-base hits, including a team-leading 22 homers that ranked sixth in the Texas League. He batted leadoff the majority of the time and made two errors in the outfield, playing center and right field. Grichuk has a .284 average with 61 homers and 259 RBIs in 433 minor league games.