Detroit Tigers Trade Target: Jason Bourgeois


9 days ago the Royals removed outfielder Jason Bourgeois from their 40-man roster, giving them a ten-day window to trade him. The window is small before this becomes “Detroit Tigers Free Agent Target: Jason Bourgeois” (or maybe Detroit Tigers Waiver Target) – but this is a guy that I feel that the Tigers could use.

April 15, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Jason Bourgeois (42) runs down a fly ball against the Cleveland Indians during the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: this is not a potential solution to the Tigers problems in right field like, say, Torii Hunter or Shane Victorino could be. Jason Bourgeois is not a full time player – period. But, unlike Quintin Berry he is at least the right kind of “not a full time player”… a right-handed hitter that cannot hit lefties. The ideal platoon (if there is one) has a lefty that is better – in general – than the righty, though both are going to struggle mightily against same-handed pitching. Imagine that you have a “good” platoon guy that puts up an .800 OPS against opposite-handers and a .650 OPS against same-handers, then a “bad” platoon guy that puts up a .750 OPS against opposite-handers and a .600 OPS against same-handers. There is either a 200-point or 100-point difference between what you get out of the two, so it obviously makes sense to platoon them either way. Still, which guy do you wish was the one who saw most of the playing time? The “good” one, right? That means the “good” one had better be a lefty – and that is the critical problem here as far as making room for Quintin Berry. A “good” righty and a “bad” lefty would be like strict platooning 2012 Berry and 2012 Delmon Young. A “good” lefty and a “bad” righty (matching the numbers I put up above) would be roughly what we could expect from a 2013 platoon of Andy Dirks and Jason Bourgeois – and the difference in numbers would be significant.

If I’m in favor of this, I suppose I have a few automatic questions to answer:
1. Why not play Dirks full time? 2012 Dirks had an implausibly high BABIP and is due for a major regression – but that doesn’t mean that he’s crap. What it does mean is that his big L-R split from 2012 is going to become a real issue if that falling BABIP takes his performance against lefties below some critical threshold level – and it’s a fair bet that it will.

2. Why not Avisail Garcia? I don’t think that Avisail Garcia is ready to play (well) full time in 2013 – but I think that he might be when he’s 23. Would you rather he spent 3 out of every 4 games riding the pine in 2013 just because he is ready to play (well) as the weak side of a platoon? I’d expect very similar value from Garcia as Bourgeois in 2013, but worry that it would stunt his development to use him that way.

3. Why Jason Bourgeois? His career slash lines are .315/.359/.396 against lefties and .206/.252/.250 against righties. He doesn’t strike out much and adds value with his legs and glove – he looks like the kind of player who would thrive (in relative terms) in Comerica Park. Though he only has 2 career PAs there, he did get a hit and a steal. Bourgeois didn’t add much value as a reserve for Kansas City last year, spending a large portion of the year in the minors. His minor league numbers were unimpressive, which may have contributed to keeping him there and getting him booted off the 40 this month. But… his walks and strikeouts still looked good down there (unlike Ryan Raburn) and the bad slash line was due to a terrible BABIP.