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December 02, 2015

Phillies claim strong defensive outfielder Peter Bourjos off waivers

In an effort to boost their outfield depth, the Phillies claimed 28-year-old Peter Bourjos off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday. The team also announced that right-handed relief pitcher Nefi Ogando was claimed by the Miami Marlins, so the 40-man roster remains at 38 players.

Bourjos, who shouldn’t take Odubel Herrera’s job in center field, is estimated to make $1.8 million in his final arbitration year per MLB Trade Rumors. After this season, he becomes a free agent.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is familiar with Bourjos from their time with the Angels, who traded him back in 2013 for a package that included David Freese. So what does he bring to the table? Speed and elite defense. Check out the Phillies getting all #FancyStats in their press release:

According to FanGraphs, since Bourjos made his major league debut in 2010, he is averaging a 16.1 ultimate zone rating per 150 defensive games (UZR/150).  That ranks third among all major league outfielders with at least 3,500 defensive innings played in that span, trailing only Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain (19.0) and Jason Heyward (18.3).

Or, if you are more of a visual learner and don’t mind listening to Tim McCarver:

According to an excellent write-up from the Cardinals blog Viva El Birdos, “HIs plays were not often off the highlight variety because he was just too fast and made difficult plays look easy.” Sounds good to me.

Obviously, the Cardinals were willing to part Bourjos for a reason, maybe a few: He has been injury-prone, but more importantly, Bourjos hasn’t hit. His career OPS is .682, and even that is being held up by what appears to be an outlier 2011 season in Los Angeles.

The Cardinals and Phillies are in two drastically different situations, so the speedy Bourjos might get a chance to play a little more in Philly before hitting free agency.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann