Former Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Bourn earned just the payday he was looking for today, inking a 4-year, $48 million dollar deal with the Cleveland Indians to presumably become their starting center fielder this summer.
Known across the MLB as one of the game’s premier speedsters, Bourn will add some much needed speed and pop to an Indians lineup that was lacking in both last summer. While second baseman Jason Kipnis was adequate in the stolen bases category — he tallied 31 last summer — his numbers pale in comparison to Bourn, who stole 42 last summer, and on top of that, hit a career high nine home runs.
Bourn figures to take over in center field for Michael Bradley, who was solid, but unspectacular in 2012, hitting .288 with only six home runs and 60 runs batted in over 552 plate appearances. While Bourn may not provide any greater power than Bradley did in 2012, his Gold Glove-caliber range in center field will give the Tribe a big name in the outfield around which to build, especially given last year’s dependable option, Shin Soo Choo has signed a one-year deal with the cross-state Cincinnati Reds.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana certainly will be called upon to deliver the majority of the runs production for the Tribe this summer, but they will be dependent upon Bourn at the top of the lineup getting on base consistently in order for those runs to be produced.
Fans in Cleveland can depend on Bourn hitting somewhere between .275 to .300 and maintaining an OBP of around .375 or better. After all, Bourn doesn’t just hit well for average as a lead-off hitter, he also has developed a more refined eye at the plate over the last few seasons, earning 70 walks over 624 at bats during the 2012 regular season.
If Michael Bourn can maintain this same discipline at the plate in Cleveland, and make a few highlight steals and catches to boot, the Indians will be very happy with the investment they’ve made in the 30 year old center fielder. It’s a big get for the Indians, and should show their fans the team is ready to compete in 2013.