Michael Bourn remains unsigned as the start of spring training gets closer and closer. He is the top position player that has not found a home. As the list of possible teams that will make a run
for him gets smaller I will try and tell you who will finally give this speedy centerfielder the contract he is looking for.
With Michael Bourn you are paying for his speed and defensive abilities. He is a decent leadoff hitter that will get himself into scoring position by stealing bases if he gets on. He plays good glove defense in a premium position but that is all you are really getting.
He has very similar numbers to Chone Figgins when he became a free agent and got a big contract from the Seattle Mariners. Figgins actually had slightly better numbers but I wouldn’t expect Bourn to drop off so fast like Figgins did. Bourn can go one of two ways, take a higher value one year deal and try and get a multiyear deal next offseason or continue to hold out for a 4 or 5 year deal this offseason.
If he holds out for a longer contract there are only a few teams that will go for that. The team that he would seem to make the most sense with long term would be the Mariners. They are in need of any offense they can get their hands on. We have seen recently with Josh Hamilton not wanting to sign there and Justin Upton vetoing a trade to them that they can’t seem to bring players in. They will have a good shot at signing Bourn because he has had to wait this ling and doesn’t have many other options. They might be scared away because of their signing of Figgins back in 2010.
If he choses to take a one-year deal his potential list of suitors will increase. The team that could use him for one year would be the Tampa Bay Rays. They could use him in center allowing Desmond Jennings to stay in left and let Wil Myers stay in the minors delaying his arbitration clock. The problem with this signing is the Rays don’t normally give big contracts to free agents. They might be desperate to keep up in the very talented AL East.
I think two surprise teams could be the Detroit Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds. If Bourn were to sign with Detroit he could play left field or allow Austin Jackson to slide over to left giving them 3 centerfielders in what would be a very good defensive outfield. If he were to sign with Cincinnati he would play center letting Shin-Soo Choo to play leftfield. He would also give the Reds the leadoff hitter they lost when they traded Drew Stubbs and it will allow them to bring Ryan Ludwick off the bench. With the start of interleague games all season Ludwick could also see some at-bats at DH when they go to an American League ballpark.
I think he will end up with the Reds on a one-year deal. He will give them everything they lost in Stubbs with less strikeouts and also serve as a stopgap for prospect Billy Hamilton.