- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer
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The St. Louis Cardinals have sent third baseman and former World Series MVP David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels for outfielder Peter Bourjos as part of a four-player trade, the teams confirmed Friday.
Freese's departure did not come as a surprise.
"I definitely would look myself in the mirror and say, 'Where am I going to be in March?'" Freese said. "I was ready to go anywhere. I'm excited to get this going."
The move reunites Freese and Salas with former teammate Albert Pujols. In a conference call with media, Freese said he got a welcoming text from Pujols and responded with a reference to the Cardinals' 2011 World Series title: "Remember what we did the last time we played together? Let's go try to do that again."
Freese, a hero in St. Louis' 2011 World Series run, fell off markedly this past season. After hitting .293 with 20 home runs and making the National League All-Star team in 2012, he batted .262 with nine homers in 2013.
Freese's OPS dropped from .839 to .721, and he hit only .179 (10-for-56) in the playoffs. Freese fills the third-base void in Anaheim that was created when the Angels traded Alberto Callaspo to Oakland in July.
Even if Freese fails to regain his 2012 All-Star form, he still appears to be a significant upgrade at third base for the Angels. Manager Mike Scioscia used seven players at that position last season, with Callaspo, Chris Nelson, Luis Jimenez and Andrew Romine logging the bulk of the at-bats.
Overall, Angels third basemen ranked 27th in the majors with an aggregate .637 OPS, and they hit only eight home runs. Only Miami, with a total of three homers, got less power out of the third-base spot.
"He knows how to drive in the important runs," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "That's something that really fits in our lineup."
Dipoto has made upgrading the pitching staff a prime focus of his offseason activity, and now he has about $4 million of added payroll. The Angels are hoping that Salas, who has 186 strikeouts in 192 1/3 big league innings, can help improve a bullpen that went 20-27 with a 4.12 ERA.
Bourjos, a superb defender in center field, is a strong candidate to take over the position from Jon Jay in St. Louis. With Freese gone, the Cardinals could slide Matt Carpenter to third base and play prospect Kolten Wong at second.
"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."
Grichuk was selected with the 24th overall pick by the Angels in the 2009 draft -- one spot ahead of Mike Trout.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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