Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Bourn is going to be one of this off-season’s most prized free agent catches. The only question is, which team has deep enough pockets to land him, and is he really worth the price that he could potentially command?
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com said that he believes Bourn could ask for as much as $100 million. If that is the case, then the number of teams that could actually afford Bourn is drastically reduced. The Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals are two teams with money to spend, and of course you can never look past the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
The Braves have already made a qualifying offer to Bourn, so if they can’t re-sign him they will receive draft-pick compensation, which means his new team will have to surrender a top draft selection to sign him.
Given the Braves history in the past with big name free agents, it seems unlikely that they will even enter into a bidding war over a 30-year old center fielder who has yet to show he can keep his production level high through a full season.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported last week that the Nationals, who have been searching for a long-term answer in center field, appear to be the favorite for Bourn’s services. Bourn also happens to be represented by Stephen Strasburg agent Scott Boras, whom with (pardon the expression) the Nationals are thick as thieves. If signed by Washington, Bourn would lead off and share the outfield with Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth.
Truth be told, $100 million does seem a bit of a lofty price to pay for someone like Bourn. His power numbers are never going to impress anyone, and his strikeout totals have increased each year since 2009. His biggest attribute, his speed, is certainly going to be on the decline now that he’s over 30. His 42 stolen bases in 2012 were his lowest total since 2008, his first full year with the Houston Astros, when he swiped 41.
If teams want to enter into a bidding war for a guy who is probably going to strike out 130 times or more, and who’s production will fade at the plate once August rolls around, it’s best that the Braves just sit back, watch the carnage, and be grateful for whatever draft pick compensation they get.