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White Sox moving Peter Bourjos, clearing center field for youth

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Jacob May stands to benefit from reported deal with Rays

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like the White Sox are going for youth over experience as they wait for Charlie Tilson.

The White Sox and Rays have reportedly agreed to a cash deal for Peter Bourjos, which gives Jacob May the inside track for the job in center field. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times first reported the discussion late Monday night, and Dan Hayes was on the transaction, which Topkin confirmed.

Entering the week, the race for center field maintained its statistical dead heat, so the decision came down to the matter of philosophy that we discussed back on March 19. A quick recap of that post: On an ideal depth chart, May would get the chance to establish his credentials in Triple-A before a promotion. On this depth chart, though, it might make sense to give him an MLB audition, at least as long as the White Sox felt confident that an unsuccessful debut wouldn’t break his spirit. Unlike Bourjos, May might be part of the White Sox’ rebuild in one form or another, so it makes sense to give him the priority lane if he looked deserving.

The tale of the tape shows that May did what he could at the plate ...

  • Jacob May: .339/.361/.525, 2 BB, 12 K, 4-for-5 SB over 61 PA
  • Peter Bourjos: .313/.340/.521, 2 BB, 7 K, 1-for-1 SB over 50 PA
  • Leury Garcia: .339/.355/.424, 2 BB, 9 K, 2-for-4 SB over 64 PA

... and that doesn’t factor in his best-in-class defense, either.

The biggest problem with choosing May over Bourjos in this fashion is the earlier reduction of depth. A concussion and a pair of oblique injuries limited May to just 194 games over the last two years. The concussion was the result of a freak collision, and I suppose we’ll find out if the other strains have friends. A cleaner history would’ve been preferable when entrusting May with April, considering Tilson — who is still in a walking boot for three weeks — might not be back until late May.

(For May’s part, he’s been throwing his body around with abandon this spring. He’s apparently not as concerned about the disabled list. That might change now that he’s on track for starts.)

Either way, though, the clock would be ticking on Bourjos. Since he’s an Article XX(B) free agent, he’d have the right to opt out of the organization on June 1. Instead of paying Bourjos a $100,000 retention to keep him for two months when they’d prefer to avoid resorting to him, they’re receiving some money from the Rays, who intend to use him as a placeholder for the injured Colby Rasmus. It would’ve been cool if the White Sox could have used Bourjos to get a sixth-starter type out of the Rays in exchange, but a good spring isn’t enough to overcome a track record that forced Bourjos to settle for a minor-league contract with a rebuilding team in the first place.