The Cleveland Indians continued to put their stamp on the AL Central Division, inking speedster Michael Bourn to a 4-year $48 million contract with an option for a 5th year. The former Atlanta Braves free agent waited until the eleventh hour and the inception of spring training before finally agreeing on a deal.
Bourn turned down the Braves qualifying offer of $13.3 million to pursue greener pastures and financial flexibility in the hands of agent Scott Boras. Bourn had been linked to the New York Mets leading up to today’s signing, but the Mets front office were rumoured to be hesitant to squander a draft pick for Bourn.
The Indians are poised to improve on their 68-94 record from a year past with the recent signings of Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds and Brett Myers. The Indians also traded for highly-touted prospect Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs. The deal solidifies the tribe’s outfield, giving them a formidable trio of Swisher, Michael Brantley and Bourn, and 4th outfielder Stubbs vying for playing time.
Bourn was ranked as the third-best available free agent this off-season, after posting a .274 BA with 42 stolen bases and a 6.0 WAR for the Atlanta Braves. The 30 year old Bourn is currently ranked 15th on the active stolen bases leaders list with 276 career thefts in seven major league seasons.
As pitchers and catchers lace up the spikes this week, Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti must be satisfied after a successful off-season full of promise for the tribe.