I don’t think Cleveland Indians fans can accuse owner Larry Dolan of being cheap this off-season after signing Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds, Brett Myers, and now Michael Bourn during the off-season. They have also signed half of the 2004 All-Star Team to non-roster invitations to Spring Training.
The Bourn signing comes out of nowhere since the Indians have a similar, though not as good player in Michael Brantley. Bourn is an excellent center fielder according to the Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) stat, which drives Fangraphs WAR of 4.1 to 6.4 over the past 4 seasons. $12 million a year for four years is a bargain if Bourn maintains this level of production. The question is whether Bourn can keep his defensive value as he ages, since the Indians now have him for his ages 30 to 34 seasons.
Offensively, Bourn has above-average on-base percentages with decent walk rates, but also strikes out too much and doesn’t have any power. He does have good speed, and does steal between 40 and 60 bases a year, although he does get caught stealing around 15 times a year which, at 40 steals a year, is not a percentage that necessarily helps the Indians.
Bourn’s profile of great speed, relatively good on-base skills and good defense leads me to believe that he can maintain this level, which makes this a great signing for the Indians, and makes a potentially dangerous lineup even better. A Bourn, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis top of the order should wear down opposing pitchers and if Lonnie Chisenhall, Mark Reynolds and Brantley play up to expectations, the Indians will have one of the best offenses in MLB.
This is a big upgrade and allows Drew Stubbs to be a very good fourth outfielder. One of Bourn’s strengths is his durability, so I really can’t find fault with this signing, especially with Shane Victorino signing a similar deal even though he is not as good of a player earlier in the off-season. There is also no loss of a first-round draft pick, since the Indians have the fifth-overall pick this June.
What are your thoughts on the signing? Please let us know in the comments below.