Michael Bourn recently inked a four-year, $48 million deal with the Cleveland Indians that will help the team attempt to contend in the American League Central division. However, one has to wonder why Bourn would sign with the Indians opposed to a top contender.
There is no question Bourn was a hot commodity during the Major League Baseball winter meetings and was a sought after free agent. The Atlanta Braves, the team he played for last season, offered him $13.3 million back in November for him to stay with them for the 2013 season. Obviously, he turned this down in order to test out free agency. It has clearly paid off, as his $48 million over four years could easily become $60 million with a vesting option. However, the outfielder could have received a very similar deal with several other top contenders, which makes many wonder why he would sign with Cleveland.
This is obviously a great move for the Indians because they will get the top base stealer in baseball along with an above-average defensive outfielder. Bourn did strike out a career-high 155 times in 2012, which is not ideal for a leadoff hitter (assuming that is where the Indians will place him in the batting order) but he still makes decent enough contact to get on base. Although, his .274 batting average from last season is slightly higher than his career average but it is down several points from the past few years.
Clearly, the Indians are committed to winning after making several solid acquisitions this past winter including acquiring Bourn, Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds, Drew Stubbs, Mike Aviles and signing Daisuke Matsuzaka to a minor league contract that will give him a great opportunity to compete for a starting rotation spot. But just because all of these talented players merge onto one team does not mean the 68-94 record from a year ago will rival what the Detroit Tigers will be able to do in the AL Central.
Not to mention, if Bourn had any aspirations of winning a World Series ring it will most likely have to happen with the Indians, as this will probably be the 30-year-old’s last big contract. Of course, there is the chance that once his time is done in Cleveland he signs on with a contender along with the possibility that the Indians trade him a few years down the road to a team that needs an extra push to go the distance.
I am optimistic that Cleveland will finally be able to give their starving fans a winner considering the players they were able to acquire in the off-season. However, offense and defense is only part of the formula for success. Without a decent rotation, which is definitely something the team does not have, the Indians are going to be going nowhere fast. I would like to say Bourn made the right move but as of right now it is way too early to tell.