APRIL 15: The D-backs are passing on Bourn for the time being, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal does add “at least for the moment” to his report, indicating that the club could circle back down the line (presumably, if internal options struggle).
APRIL 14: The Diamondbacks have held “some discussions” with the representatives of free agent outfielder Michael Bourn, GM Dave Stewart tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Bourn was just released by the Braves, who will combine with the Indians to cover all of the veteran’s $14MM salary this year — less a pro-rated portion of the league minimum for whatever time he spends with another organization.
Arizona hasn’t yet decided whether it wants to add Bourn, Stewart said. The club is still sorting out its outfield situation after receiving the devastating news that standout center fielder A.J. Pollock will miss much or all of the coming season. As things stand, the D-Backs are relying on infielder Chris Owings and youngster Socrates Brito up the middle, with somewhat less-than-promising results thus far.
“We’ve talked about it internally and haven’t really made any decision which direction we’re going to go and what we’re going to do,” said Stewart. “We’re kind of on hold right now.”
The Diamondbacks will likely look to move quickly if they choose to pursue Bourn, said the GM, as there are other organizations in the mix. He explained: “If we’re going to have an opportunity to get the player – and, believe me, I don’t think we’re the only fish in the water – if we want to have a chance to get the player we’re going to have a make a decision pretty swiftly.”
Bourn was one of the game’s most productive center fielders from 2009-12, but age and injury have slowed him quite a bit in recent years. He had already been reduced to being a below-average performer at the plate in his first two years in Cleveland, but fell off even further to a .238/.310/.282 slash over 482 plate appearances in 2015. Bourn has also declined precipitously on the bases and with the glove — where he once excelled — and hasn’t done enough in those areas to make up for his failing bat in recent seasons.
All said, Bourn isn’t the most exciting choice and could hardly be expected to make up for the loss of Pollock, but there’s not much hope of doing better at this stage of the season. The 33-year-old holds the promise of at least providing a solid defensive presence to go with good baserunning, and could again be a useful player if he can turn things up at the plate.