It has been no mystery to anyone in baseball over the past 12 months that the Washington Nationals have been looking for a centerfielder. They have options on their squad but want a more prototypical centerfielder/leadoff man to spark their offense. Last season, they inquired about Michael Bourn, one of the best in baseball, but couldn’t close the deal and he would go to Atlanta. This season it appears they have noticed another Astro that could be on the trade block in Jason Bourgeois. The speedy outfielder played a great deal last season during various stretches posting respectable numbers. With the Astros having depth in the outfield, moving Bourgeois makes sense and even if this move doesn’t pan out, the intentions are obvious. Move an excess piece to help add depth to a portion of the club or system that may be lacking that very thing, smart move for a rebuilding club.
Last season, when the Nationals inquired about Michael Bourn and Denard Span, it was clear they needed someone to occupy centerfield. The idea of having Jason Werth in CF, while plausible, seems like it weakens their defense a great deal. Ideally, someone who could fit the leadoff role and play great defensive seems to be what they want and are still seeking. Bourgeois provides all that, the only question is whether the 3o year old OF is everyday material? Last season when he played in spurts, he did well but as the season extended and his playing time grew his stats regressed. Logic says, that was going to happen but it had more to do with playing time than simple regression. After Michael Bourn was dealt, Jason would go on to hit .225 with an OBP of .265. Before the deal, he hit .354 with an OBP of .374. His BABIP was telling as well, the more he played the more his luck evened out and his BABIP would drop over .120 after the deal. The more Jason played, the less he was effective and that poses the question, is he a starting caliber CF? Now, the Nationals may simply be looking for OF depth but it appears they really like Jason and that leads me to believe he will play quite a bit for Washington if they acquire him.
Now, what can the Astros expect in return for Bourgeois? I wouldn’t expect a ton but he has value and especially to a team like the Nats. Native_Astro from the crawfishboxes.com brought up a few names last night via twitter that would make sense. Projectable guys that aren’t top prospects in the Nationals system would be the way to go. Sammy Solis, sadly, would have been a fantastic get but he needs TJS. I myself would love to see the Astros play hardball with Washington and ask about Robbie Ray. Ray is a hard throwing lefty who is only 19 years old and would fit the rebuilding mold.
Bourgeois is caught in a numbers game in Houston. Jordan Schafer figures to be the CF unless he completely falls off this spring and Jason isn’t a corner OF long term. He is a very useful player to have and on a contender, could be one of those vital pieces that good teams view as essential. The Astros can afford to lose Jason because they have Fernando Martinez, J.B. Shuck and others who could take that spot and they would lose very little. A move like this gets very little buzz but depending on the return or the playing time it open ups, could be looked upon much differently down the road.