Michael Bourn Rumors

Morosi On Juan Pierre, Mike Redmond

Saturday marked the first full slate of Spring Training games with teams in action all over the states of Arizona and Florida. Teams will play a 35-game schedule this spring, longer than typical years, as a result of the World Baseball Classic taking place at the same time. FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi caught up with the Marlins as they begin the 2013 season with lowered expectations after unloading a major portion of the team's payroll during the offseason.

  • Marlins outfielder Juan Pierre says Michael Bourn did well for himself with the contract he signed with the Indians this offseason. Pierre points to power hitters aging more gracefully than players who rely on their speed to score runs. "Guys that run, you get to 31 and (teams) shy away from guys like that," Pierre said. "Bourn is 30. I was 28 when I signed my deal with the Dodgers, right in the prime. It’s a tough thing, because power never goes on you."
  • Marlins backup catcher Jeff Mathis broke his collarbone after being hit with a ball while behind the plate on Saturday which further weakens Miami at the position. A reporter suggested manager Mike Redmond, a former catcher, should assume Mathis' responsibilities while the veteran recovers. "I don’t know about that," Redmond said. "I don’t think so. I like the way my body feels right now, the way it is."

Weiner On CBA, Mets, Wright

MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner addressed reporters at Mets camp today, discussing draft pick compensation and the Mets’ franchise player. Here are some details (all Twitter links)…

  • Weiner said he expects to discuss draft pick compensation with MLB before the current collective bargaining agreement expires, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. It sounds as though the MLBPA would like to consider changes to the system that affected the leverage ofplayers such as Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse. "The compensation affected those guys fairly dramatically this year, and we would like to try to address that,” Weiner said.
  • Weiner said he hopes the Mets spend more, as chairman & CEO Fred Wilpon has said they will (via Mike Puma of the New York Post). "I think everybody would like to see the Mets as a competitive team, and it's going to require a higher payroll,” Weiner said.
  • David Wright knew that he would have been a highly coveted free agent if he didn’t sign with the Mets long-term, Weiner said (via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com). "David understood that if he went out to market he’d probably make more money, and perhaps substantially more money," Weiner said. Wright signed an eight-year, $138MM extension with the Mets in December.
  • Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com notes that MLBPA exec Bobby Bonilla collects more money from the Mets than any of their current outfielders. Bonilla, who spent parts of five seasons with the Mets, still collects deferred payments from the club.

Quick Hits: Lohse, Volquez, Bourn, Phillies, Blue Jays

Padres starter Edinson Volquez is eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, but his preference is to sign an extension with San Diego, says Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Before considering a new contract, the Padres want to see Volquez improve his control, Center notes. Volquez allowed 105 walks in 2012. Here are more notes from around baseball…

  • The Dodgers' surplus of starters is yet another factor working against Kyle Lohse as he tries to find a suitable deal this winter, rival officials tell Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd).  Teams looking for pitching can pick up the phone and call the Dodgers to ask about Chris Capuano or one of their other available starters.  Lohse is obviously a stronger option, but he's also more expensive and teams have less flexibility than they did earlier this winter.
  • Pitcher Kyle Davies agreed to a minor league deal with the Twins that does not include an invite to big league camp, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.  The 29-year-old owns a career 5.59 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 across seven big league seasons.
  • New Indians outfielder Michael Bourn says that the offseason market for his services took a turn for the worse after the Twins traded not one, but two center fielders in Denard Span and Ben Revere, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reports. The trades of Span and Revere took the Nationals and Phillies out of the market for a center fielder. "I was looking at that like, ‘Man, are you serious?' Those were two teams I pretty much thought would be fighting for me," Bourn says.
  • The Phillies discussed trading Domonic Brown to the Astros this offseason, Jon Heyman reports (on Twitter), but the Phils, still low on talent in the outfield, are reluctant to deal him. The former top prospect is current competing for time in left field with the Phillies.
  • Blue Jays manager John Gibbons hints that the club might turn to Josh Thole or Henry Blanco, rather than J.P. Arencibia, to catch R.A. Dickey, Richard Griffin of TheStar.com reports. The Jays will go with a personal catcher for Dickey, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm notes. Arencibia wants to catch for Dickey, but Thole and Blanco both caught Dickey and his knuckleball when Dickey played for the Mets.

Quick Hits: Bourn, Richard, Padres, Manuel

It took Michael Bourn a long time to find his new team this winter, but the center fielder isn't complaining, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  At the same time, several executives charge that agent Scott Boras overreached and initially asked for much more than a four year deal.  "Boras clearly felt he’d get significant length, definitely five years, possibly six or seven," one exec told Rosenthal.  Here's more Saturday linkage..

  • Clayton Richard is now the lone remaining arbitration case with Homer Bailey agreeing to a one-year deal this afternoon, but it seems likely that he'll be headed to the table with the Padres, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.
  • Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is entering the final season of his two-year contract extension, but the skipper says that he is focused on winning and not his next deal, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.  Manuel is adamant that he won't worry about his job security if the team struggles early on in the season and pointed out that managers like Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa have been in similar situations.
  • While Rafael Soriano won't miss ceding the ninth inning to Mariano Rivera in New York, he will miss having the legendary closer as a teammate, writes Harvey Araton of the New York Times.  Meanwhile, he's happy to be with the Nationals where he knows for certain that he will enter as the closer.

AL Central Notes: Bourn, White Sox, Campana, Harden

Here's the latest from the AL Central…

  • The Indians offered Michael Bourn a deal in November worth roughly as much as the four-year, $44MM offer the team eventually made to Shane Victorino, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  Victorino rejected the Tribe to sign with Boston, but Bourn eventually ended up taking a similar offer (four years/$48MM with a $12MM vesting option on a fifth year) from the Indians once a larger contract failed to materialize on the open market.  Cleveland's ownership was willing to make the signing since Bourn's deal is backloaded and the Indians will be receiving extra money from a new TV contract.
  • White Sox GM Rick Hahn likes his young catching corps and doesn't believe the team needs to add a veteran catcher to the mix, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports.  Tyler Flowers is slated to be Chicago's everyday catcher, with Hector Gimenez as the backup and non-roster invitee Bryan Anderson also present in camp.  The three catchers have a combined 337 Major League at-bats.
  • The White Sox haven't spoken to the Cubs about outfielder Tony Campana, ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine reports.  Campana was designated for assignment by the Cubs earlier this week and was claimed on waivers by the White Sox last August before the Cubs pulled him back.  The Pale Hose are known to be looking for a left-handed hitting outfielder, though Campana is better known for his speed (54-for-59 in steals over the last two seasons) than his bat (.605 OPS in 347 career PA).
  • Rich Harden tells MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger that he was determined to keep playing and didn't consider retirement after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in January 2012.  Harden is trying to revive his career in Minnesota after signing a minor league deal with the Twins two months ago.
  • In other AL Central news from earlier today, the Twins signed Rafael Perez to a minor league contract.

Mets Anticipate Payroll Flexibility

Mets chairman & CEO Fred Wilpon offered an optimistic vision of his team’s finances today, suggesting that payroll could soon rise well above $100MM (via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com). Wilpon said he could see the Mets spending as much as they did under general manager Omar Minaya, who operated with a budget of $140MM-plus. The Mets will spend big in free agency next winter if that’s “appropriate,” according to Wilpon, who added that his past financial problems are behind him. 

Here are some more Mets-related notes…

  • GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets made a "strong effort" to sign free agent outfielder Michael Bourn, Rubin reports (on Twitter). Alderson said the Mets wouldn’t consider offering a vesting option for a fifth year, as the Indians ultimately did.
  • The Mets aren’t actively shopping for relief help, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports (on Twitter).
  • Wilpon doesn’t expect to address the contract status of manager Terry Collins until after the season, Rubin reports (on Twitter). Collins’ contract expires following the 2013 campaign. However, Wilpon strongly endorsed Collins and Alderson, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).
  • Wilpon said he wasn’t going to lose David Wright if at all possible, Marc Carig of Newsday reports (Twitterlinks). "To me, he's our Jeter," Wilpon said, in reference to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
  • Wilpon noted that all surprise teams get great pitching and said he believes the Mets are in position to get that type of pitching, according to Carig.
  • The Mets say they are aiming to break even financially this season. Wilpon added that the team must be competitive on the field to accomplish that goal, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (on Twitter).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Rosenthal On CBA

Though MLB and the MLBPA finalized baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement during the 2011-12 offseason, some elements of the CBA didn’t take effect until this winter. This means the 2012-13 offseason has been the first full winter under the sport’s new CBA. So far, it’s turning out better than many anticipated, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Here are some details from Rosenthal:

  • The CBA has led to uncharacteristic caution from the Yankees while creating incentives for many other teams to spend. The agreement’s market-disqualification program encourages large market teams such as the Blue Jays, Braves and Nationals to spend. As Rosenthal explains, those teams are seeing their revenue sharing proceeds diminish. This change encourages the clubs to spend and generate revenue with on-field success.
  • The MLBPA would love to eliminate draft pick compensation, as Rosenthal notes. However, the new CBA reduced the number of players linked to compensation. And those connected to draft picks such as Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano are signing lucrative deals. 
  • MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently examined the effect the qualifying offer had on teams and free agents. Check out Tim's post for the thoughts of MLB execs and agents on the new system.
  • Indians front office executives encouraged ownership to spend on Bourn, explaining that it could be a while before a similarly appealing opportunity emerged.
  • Many executives consider the recently-imposed amateur spending limits counter-productive, Rosenthal reports.
  • MLB has “no intention” of changing the rule that protects the top ten selections in the draft (Twitter links). The Mets were considering challenging the rule and arguing that they should have a protected 11th overall selection after finishing with one of the ten worst records in baseball. The language in the CBA on the matter is clear in MLB’s view.

New York Notes: Yankees, Bourn, Santana

Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters today that his team is capable of winning 95 games and the World Series. "If we play up to our capabilities, I believe we're a very good team," Girardi said (via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News on Twitter). Here are some more links from New York as the Yankees and Mets begin Spring Training…

  • Girardi said one of his biggest Spring Training concerns is finding a right-handed designated hitter, Feinsand reports (on Twitter). Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz could provide offense from the right side to complement lefty bats such as Travis Hafner and Dan Johnson.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports expects Derek Jeter to be a valuable contributor for the Yankees in 2013, even if this is the year the Yankees falter as a team.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post believes the Mets' interest in Michael Bourn "was essentially an empty pursuit" since the team wasn't about to sign Bourn without assurances that they'd keep their 11th overall draft pick. The Mets never made a firm bid for Bourn, and their suggestions did not include options for 2017. Sherman reported last night that the Mets made Bourn a four-year offer before he agreed to terms with the Indians.
  • Johan Santana said he's not thinking about the trade deadline or free agency, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports (on Twitter). The left-hander will earn $25.5MM in 2013 and his contract includes a $25MM club option for 2014. Presumably the Mets will choose the $5.5MM buyout over the option.

Indians Notes: Bourn, Theriot, Stubbs

It’s been an uncharacteristically busy offseason for the Indians, who are typically modest spenders in free agency. They added Nick Swisher, Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds earlier in the winter and agreed to sign Michael Bourn to a four-year, $48MM contract last night. Here’s the latest from Cleveland…

  • To the surprise of many, the Indians responded to an increase in TV-related revenue by spending aggressively on free agents. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that the Indians are suddenly a must-see team, even if their pitching staff does have shortcomings.
  • The Indians and Rangers are still in the mix for free agent infielder Ryan Theriot, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Theriot’s main concern is playing time, and he could have trouble getting into the lineup in Cleveland and Texas.
  • Drew Stubbs is "eminently available" and "very likely the odd man out" in the Cleveland outfield, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote last night that it doesn't appear Stubbs or Michael Brantley will be moved.
  • It's believed that three of the final four teams in on Bourn had top ten draft picks that would have been protected, Heyman reports.
  • MLBTR’s Steve Adams compiled some more signing reactions last night.

Indians To Sign Michael Bourn

TUESDAY: Bourn will take his physical tomorrow and the Indians will introduce him at a Thursday press conference, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (Twitter links). Bourn will earn $7MM in 2013, $13.5MM in 2014 and 2015, and $14MM in 2016.

MONDAY: Michael Bourn has agreed to a four-year, $48MM deal with the Indians, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The contract contains a $12MM vesting option for a fifth year (Twitter links). The option vests if Bourn reaches 550 plate appearances in the final season of his contract, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Bourn is represented by Scott Boras. Michael Bourn

Bourn's contract is the second four-year deal that the Indians have given out this offseason, as the team also agreed to a four-year, $56MM contract with Nick Swisher in early January. Cleveland forfeited its second-round pick in order to sign Swisher, and the Bourn signing will cost them their competitive-balance pick, which would have been No. 69 overall according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (on Twitter). Bourn's former team, the Braves, will now pick 31st in the upcoming draft, Callis adds. (A refresher on the new draft pick compensation system can be found here.)

The 30-year-old Bourn hit .274/.348/.391 this past season with the Braves, adding nine homers and 42 stolen bases. He topped 155 games for the third time in the past four seasons and played stellar defense according to both UZR/150 (+22.4) and The Fielding Bible (+24).

Bourn was pursued heavily by the Mets over the past few weeks, but signing him would have required forfeiting the No. 11 overall pick in the 2013 draft. The Mets wanted to make an appeal to MLB that would allow them to keep the pick due to the fact that they felt they earned it by finishing with one of the ten worst records in baseball.

As MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, it's been an exceptionally busy offseason for Indians GM Chris Antonetti. In addition to Bourn and Swisher, Cleveland has also signed Brett Myers (one year, $7MM) and Mark Reynolds (one year, $6MM). In total, Cleveland spent a whopping $117MM on free agents this offseason, not including minor league deals with notable base salaries for Daisuke Matszuaka and Jason Giambi. The Tribe also exercised Ubaldo Jimenez's $5.75MM option and acquired Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs in a three-team blockbuster that sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati.

The addition of Bourn gives Cleveland an enviable surplus in the outfield, meaning that either Stubbs or Michael Brantley could end up on the trading block in the coming weeks. They could also shift Swisher to first base and use Reynolds as a designated hitter, which would allow them to deploy a strong outfield of Brantley, Bourn and Stubbs.

Bourn ranked third on Tim Dierkes' list of Top 50 free agents this offseason, behind only Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton. With Bourn's agreement, the only members of that list that remain unsigned are fellow Scott Boras clients Kyle Lohse and Jose Valverde.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.