LOS ANGELES, February 9, 2013 — Pitchers and catchers are set to report for spring training this week and most players are excited to get back on the field to help their teams win. Highly regarded Michael Bourn, however, is stuck in limbo with no team to call his own.
His agent, Scott Boras, is looking to pull another late winter rabbit out of his hat.
Matthew Cerrone is reporting that Bourn, 30, is looking for a four or five year deal in the $15 million range annually. That is approximately what Curtis Granderson earns and I assure you, Michael Bourn is no Curtis Granderson. He most likely will not get the five years he is asking for, unless he takes a significant pay cut. As he gets older, his speed should diminish, though that may have already begun.
The two time All-Star put up interesting numbers in 2012 for the Atlanta Braves with a .274/.348/.391 line and career highs in homeruns, 9, and RBIs, 57, to go with a career high number of strike outs, 155, and walks, 70. Michael Bourn’s bread and butter is stealing bases. However, he stole less bases, 42, and attempted less stolen bases, 55, than he did in any of the previous three seasons.
Additionally, he was caught stealing 23.6% of the time in 2012, which is higher than his average of 16.9% over the last three years. Sure, the extra homeruns and RBIs were nice, but not enough to make him an impact power player. His game is all about steals and defense.
With Bourn’s skills possibly in decline, Boras and Bourn are holding out for that five year security blanket. In addition to the contract length and amount of money he is asking for, there is another thing holding teams back from signing the free agent center fielder.
Any team who signs Michael Bourn will have to surrender their first draft pick in 2013 to the Atlanta Braves because their qualifying offer of $13.3 million was turned down by Bourn. The only way to get around losing your top draft pick would be if it were in the top ten.
The team that seems most in need and interested in Bourn is the New York Mets, but they have the #11 draft pick in 2013. The Mets are the National League’s version of the Doldrums and had the tenth worst record in baseball last year. Unfortunately for them, the Pittsburgh Pirates were given the tenth pick as compensation for not being able to agree on a deal with the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Mark Appel. This pushed the Mets back to the eleventh spot and left their pick unprotected.
There is a chance the Mets sign Bourn, but probably not for more than three years. He is an obvious upgrade to any outfielder on the Mets roster at this point and the recent signing of the well-traveled Corey Patterson to a minor league deal does nothing to alter their need of an impact outfielder.
The Seattle Mariners could be a fit for Bourn, but I would think they are a little once bitten twice shy after the Chone Figgins debacle. If the Mets do try to sign Bourn, they will probably want to appeal to an independent arbitrator that they should not have to give up their pick because they were the tenth worst team and would have had a protected top ten pick if not for the Pirates.
That is a long shot though as there is nothing that says that having the tenth worst record will protect your draft pick. At this point, Bourn’s price tag is too high for his output and the length of the contract he is seeking is far too long at his age and for the type of player that he is. He would have been smart to take the generous offer of $13.3 million from the Braves, but sadly, that is not the “Scott Boras Way.”
Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball
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