In an off-season that has seen Shane Victorino grab a 3 year/$39 million deal, and Nick Swisher snooker the good folks in Cleveland out of at least $56 million (likely $70 million over 5 years) over the next four seasons, how is it possible that Michael Bourn is still a free agent?
The reasons that I have seen given so far for this have been two-fold: First- no one wants to give up a draft pick in order to sign him. For me, this is a pathetic excuse. Projecting where a draft pick will end up in the future (Brien Taylor, anyone? Matt Anderson? Brian Bullington? All guys who were #1 overall picks) is a bigger crapshoot in MLB than any other professional sport.
So for me, that is a rather shaky reason to not offer a deal to Bourn. He is a proven major leaguer, a guy who has stolen at least 41 bases in each of the last five years, plays great defense, and has not been tabbed as a bad teammate (at least not publicly.) He’s just turned 30, (2 years younger than Swisher and Victorino), and should be productive for at least the next 3-4 seasons. Yet he remains a free agent.
The other reason that he hasn’t signed (allegedly) is that he is demanding a five year deal. If it wasn’t for the fact that Swisher essentially was given a five year deal, Josh Hamilton (a better player, but a much bigger risk) nabbed a five year deal, Angel Pagan got a 4/$45 million from the Giants, Victorino got his 3/$39 million, and even PED cheat Melky Cabrera got a 2/$16 million deal, that might make some sense. It might be a sign that MLB clubs were finally learning fiscal restraint, but the contracts listed show that is not necessarily so, which leaves the question, how does a talent such as Bourn still not have a job as we approach February?
As a fan of the Red Sox, I can dream of an outfield that would include of Bourn, Ellsbury, and Reddick. The reality that I wake up to each morning is nothing like that. Currently, Sox fans can look forward to a lights out first-half performance from Ellsbury before he is shipped out to a contending team.
Putting aside the Red Sox foibles, how is it that a team that is in a position to contend this season not made an offer? Bourn would seem to be a great fit for perhaps the Texas Rangers, NY Mets, or Anaheim Angels. He is a player that could be a difference maker for a variety of different teams that are looking to improve immediately, and could even prove to be an important piece for teams that are in the process of rebuilding, if Bourn could be convinced to sign with such a team. The Seattle Mariners might be a nice fit if they cared to make an offer.
What concerns me the longer that Bourn is left without a job is that the MLBPA will eventually look to bring charges of collusion against the owners, whether or not there is cause for such a charge. Clearly owners have been free with their cash this off-season, so it might be a difficult case to prove, but Bourn is a guy who finished 18th in the NL MVP chase. He was an All-Star in 2012, as well as placing 6th in overall WAR (2nd in defensive WAR), and was first in Total Zone Runs. This is not a guy who should have to go begging for a job, he is a player that should play an important part on a championship club. If he can’t do it in Boston, I hope he’ll have the decency to at least remain in the National League and cause problems there.
Would you be happy if your favorite team signed Bourn? Why or Why not?
Let me know: