The saga among the New York Mets, Michael Bourn, and the 11th overall pick in this year’s baseball draft continues with no resolution. The Mets are attempting to find a loophole that would allow them to sign Bourn without having to sacrifice their first round draft pick. Since the Mets were bumped from the 10th overall pick to the 11th overall pick when the Pittsburgh Pirates failed to sign their first round pick last year, the Mets pick was no longer protected if they were to sign a free agent like Bourn, who received a qualifying offer from his previous team. It’s not an unreasonable request that the Mets are making, and it wouldn’t be a terrible precedent for Major League Baseball to make, since it’s a rare situation, but what the Mets need to realize is that whether or not they get to keep their top draft pick, they need to do whatever they can to sign Bourn.
There is a perception among the team’s fan base that the Mets will be “punting” the 2013 season, meaning they will not attempt to be competitive, but will instead save its resources for subsequent years when they will be in better position to compete. Whether that’s true or not is irrelevant. The Mets need to dispel any belief among the fan base that they are giving up on 2013 before the season begins, and signing Bourn would be a great way to do that. Signing Bourn would send a signal that the organization is willing to spend money, while also filling two of the biggest needs the Mets have: center fielder and lead off man.
Most of the time, it’s not wise to cater to the fan base and make multi-million-dollar decisions based on perception, but for a team that’s struggled so much on the field and struggled so much in the attendance department the last few years, the Mets need to send a message to their fans. The organization needs to send the message that they can spend money, they will spend money, and they will do what is necessary to field a competitive team, and signing Bourn, even at the cost of their first round draft pick, would be a way to do that.
Bourn won’t make the Mets a World Series winner. He may not even make them a playoff team. But he will make them a better team and help make the second half of the season in Flushing as interesting as its been since 2008. For that, signing Bourn is the right move to make, whether it costs the Mets the 11th overall draft pick or not.