MLB Free Agency: Multiple Snags Keeping Michael Bourn on Market

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIDecember 27, 2012

Michael Bourn is still waiting on his big free-agent deal.
Michael Bourn is still waiting on his big free-agent deal.Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Michael Bourn is without a team as MLB free agency winds down, and he is partly to blame for that.

While players like Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke got the big contracts they wanted, Bourn continues to hold out for money that simply may not be there.

Bourn is reportedly seeking $100 million in free agency because that's what he and his agent, Scott Boras, feel like he's worth.

Usually, what Boras wants for his client, he gets, because he's a master at getting the big contract.

However, for a guy whose greatest asset is his legs, being 30 isn't a great way to get that kind of contract.

Bourn stole a lowly (for him) 42 bases last year and was caught 13 times. He's not running as much as he used to, although his defensive abilities are still some of the best among all center fielders.

But that's not the only reason why Bourn is still on the market.


Other Teams Off the Market

The Philadelphia Phillies traded for Ben Revere, the Washington Nationals traded for Denard Span and the Atlanta Braves signed B.J. Upton.

Other teams like the New York Yankees are trying to knock a little off their payroll, so that likely cancels them out as well. The Boston Red Sox are being fiscally responsible (mostly), while there's no space in the outfields of either Los Angeles team.

The Texas Rangers may ante up the same way they did for Alex Rodriguez years ago, especially considering they've lost a lot of stars this offseason. But still, $100 million for a speed guy who will be 35 by the end of his contract?

As Alex Remington of points out, Bourn and Boras may have waited too long. Although Remington does add that Boras is notorious for making his clients wait so they can get top dollar.


Draft-Pick Compensation

The Braves tendered a contract to Bourn at the end of the season. That means that any team with an unprotected first-round pick will have to send the Braves their first-round pick just so they can sign Bourn.

For teams that like to build through the draft, that's not enticing, especially considering the level of talent that is always available in baseball's first round.

With the new collective bargaining agreement, most teams don't like the idea of giving up a draft pick and dishing out a lot of money. It's just not a good combination.


Production is Down

Bourn batted .274 last year and had an on-base percentage of .348. However, those numbers are thanks in large part to a great first half of the season.

In the second half of the season, Bourn batted .225 with a .325 on-base percentage. He only stole 17 bases in 67 games.

That's not exactly what you want out of your leadoff hitter.

Bourn has prided himself at getting on base, and frankly, he didn't do a good job of that in the second half of last year.

So, teams must figure out which Bourn they will get for their money. Will it be the Bourn of the first half, or the one from the second half?

If it's the latter, then that money can be marked as wasted.



Bourn will get signed at some point before spring training. He's too good of a player to not get signed.

There's a reason he was one of the top free agents available this offseason.

His ability to play masterful defense in center field and get the top of the lineup going is uncanny. He's a special player that any team would love to have.

Now, they just have to figure out how much he is worth.

The biggest part will be the waiting game.

Does Bourn tell Boras to go ahead and get as much as he can before a certain date and then go with the highest bid? Or does Bourn let his agent do his job, trusting he has his best interests at heart?