Michael Bourn Rumors

Quick Hits: Indians, Mark Prior, Phillies, Mark Lerner

On this day in 1971, Satchel Paige became the first Negro League player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The oldest player to make his Major League debut, Paige took the field for the Indians for the first time at the age of 42. Here's the latest news and stories making headlines across MLB.

  • After making a series of deals this offseason in hopes of making a strong push toward the playoffs, the Indians may not be done adding pieces to their roster just yet, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn remain on the radar for Cleveland as the organization would only have to give up a third round draft pick in order to sign either player.
  • Mark Prior hasn't given up on his goal of returning to the Major Leagues as he's working on strengthening his shoulder in hopes of receiving an invitation to Spring Training, says David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com. Currently in the best shape of his life according to reports, Prior spent the 2012 season at Triple-A Pawtucket as a member of the Red Sox organization before being released in August. For more on Prior, Doug Miller of MLB.com takes an in-depth approach to telling the past and present story of the former sensation's life on both a professional and personal level.
  • The contracts for recently-signed members of the Phillies organization are broken down by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com as he provides the financial incentives players would receive based upon meeting specific goals. For example, Delmon Young would be awarded $100K if named NL MVP next season and $250K for reaching 600 plate appearances, among others. 
  • Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner told college students at a conference directed toward finding a career in sports that he often learns of deals made by his GM Mike Rizzo by visiting MLB Trade Rumors, writes James Wagner of The Washington Post. A special thanks to Mark for publicly recognizing the work done at MLBTR by Tim Dierkes and his staff.

Michael Bourn Rumors: Friday

For the last few weeks many of the details related to Michael Bourn's free agency have remained unknown. Which teams are interested other than the Mets? Could the Mets sign Bourn without surrendering the 11th overall draft pick this June? Would they commit more than $40MM? What we do know is that the Mets are interested in signing Bourn to a multiyear deal and that they intend to keep their draft pick. Here are today’s Bourn-related rumors, with the most recent updates up top:

  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson stated in an online chat with fans that the Mets would like to sign Bourn. “For us, he would be a very nice fit,” Alderson said. “I think we’re still in the mix, but I couldn’t really predict anything at this point” (video link with text via Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com).
  • Cerrone hears from people connected to the team that the Mets are thinking three years and around $40MM for Bourn. Agent Scott Boras is still seeking at least four years and $15MM per season, according to Cerrone.

Michael Bourn Rumors: Thursday

The Mets have discussed three-year deals for Michael Bourn, and might be willing to offer a fourth season. However, they don’t seem willing to spend close to $15MM per season and they would only sign the center fielder if their 11th overall draft pick becomes protected. Here are today's Bourn-related rumors, with the most recent items up top…

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post doesn't get the sense that the commissioner's office would relent to help the Mets sign Bourn (all Twitter links). Bud Selig doesn't want to create the perception that he favors Mets owner Fred Wilpon and the commissioner's office isn't inclined to help agent Scott Boras. Arbitration remains a possibility, however. Sherman's hunch is that the Mets would offer three years and $30-35MM. Boras appears to want to obtain at least $13MM per season on a deal that surpasses Angel Pagan's four-year, $40MM contract.

Earlier updates:

  • It's likely that the Mets' 11th overall draft pick would be protected if they sign Bourn, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (Twitter links). This would be accomplished through negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA, Bowden adds. Both parties negotiating the CBA intended to protect the picks of the teams with the ten worst records, Bowden reports. This would strengthen the Mets' argument for keeping the 11th overall pick.
  • Bowden hears from an interested team that Bourn is more likely to sign for $14-15MM per year than for $11-12MM per year (Twitter link).
  • The Mets are still “very motivated” to sign Bourn and their interest in him is sincere, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. The team remains adamant about keeping its first round draft choice, the 11th overall selection. The process of filing a grievance on Bourn’s behalf has not yet been initiated, according to Martino. If the Mets do push for resolution on the issue, it’ll end up in front of an independent arbitrator who will hear arguments from MLB and the MLBPA.


Mets Notes: Bourn, Davis, Collins

The Mets are interested in Michael Bourn and, based on the most recent rumors regarding the free agent center fielder, may be pursuing him more aggressively than any other team. Here’s the latest on the Mets, starting with a Bourn-related update:

  • Ike Davis would like to see Bourn sign with the Mets, but he'll leave the recruiting to David Wright, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. Davis joked that Bourn wouldn't know who he is, while acknowledging he'd like to have Bourn getting on base ahead of him in the New York lineup.
  • Mets manager Terry Collins said he doesn't intend to let his contract status become a distraction this year, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports. “I don’t want this to be an issue; it’s not with me,” he said. “I’ve reached that stage in my career where I love what I do.” Collins, who’s entering the final year of his current contract, pointed to Dusty Baker and Jim Leyland, who led their respective teams to the playoffs in 2012 under similar circumstances.

Michael Bourn Rumors: Wednesday

It's no secret that the Mets would like to add Michael Bourn, the top free agent remaining. They dined with him, and their franchise player reached out to express interest. Though it's difficult to pinpoint other suitors for Bourn, the Indians could get involved if his asking price drops "a lot," Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported yesterday. Here are today's Bourn-related rumors with the most recent updates up top…

  • Agent Scott Boras is telling the Mets he has attractive offers for Bourn, and the Mets are essentially challenging Boras to prove those proposals exist, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. The Mets have discussed a three-year deal for Bourn and hinted at a willingness to offer a fourth season, Sherman adds. It’s possible the Mets would match the four-year, $40MM contract Angel Pagan obtained, but only if their 11th overall draft pick becomes protected. Interestingly, the Mets would prefer to wait until they have an agreement with Bourn before challenging the existing draft pick compensation rules, Sherman writes.
  • The Mets have discussed a three-year deal with Boras, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. However, the team isn’t willing to spend anywhere close to $15MM per season on the center fielder. Still, Boras maintains that interest remains strong in Bourn and free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse. “Bourn and Lohse have very viable markets and we’re negotiating with the clubs currently,” he told Rosenthal. The Braves never made Bourn an offer other than their qualifying offer, Rosenthal writes. Atlanta executives didn’t believe him to be worth more than $10-12MM per season for four years. Rosenthal lists the Mariners, Rangers and Cubs as potential suitors for Bourn.

Michael Bourn Rumors: Tuesday

Yesterday Mets general manager Sandy Alderson acknowledged to reporters that the Mets are in on free agent center fielder Michael Bourn. “We’re getting to the point where we can be in the mix,’’ Alderson said. “If you look at the fundamental composition of our team, it wouldn’t take more than a couple of moves to change the whole perception of things.’’ The Mets would have to surrender the 11th overall pick in the upcoming amateur draft to complete a deal with Bourn, but would ask MLB for a rule modification in the event they're close to a deal. Here’s the latest on Bourn, a Scott Boras client who recently dined with the Mets

  • The Indians are among the teams that might have interest in Bourn if his asking price drops "A LOT," ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter).

Earlier updates:

  • David Wright told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he spoke with Bourn and exchanged texts with him to persuade him to sign in New York. “I just wanted to let him know that he would be a great addition here and he’d obviously be welcomed here,’’ Wright said. He explained to Bourn that the Mets aren’t far off from contention with the young talent they have in place. Wright noted that he’s happy to help the organization recruit free agents if it makes a difference on the field.
  • The Mariners and Rangers have also been linked to Bourn, the top free agent remaining.

Mets Notes: Bourn, Lyon, Matsuzaka

The Mets are nearing a deal with right-handed reliever Brandon Lyon less than a week after adding Scott Atchison and LaTroy Hawkins. Here’s the latest on the Mets’ roster…

  • New York GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets will probably be done adding to their bullpen, assuming the deal with Lyon goes through, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports (Twitter links). The club had interest in a number of relievers as recently as last week, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork reported.
  • Alderson sounds serious about pursuing free agent center fielder Michael Bourn, DiComo reports. However, the GM said the Mets could end up going to Spring Training with their current roster. The Mets have sincere interest in Bourn, but don't intend to forfeit the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft to complete a deal with the Scott Boras client.
  • One Mets official indicated to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the team has no interest in Daisuke Matsuzaka (Twitter link). Cafardo reported yesterday that teams like the Astros and Mets were considering the possibility of bringing the free agent right-hander to camp.

Cafardo On Bourn, Red Sox, Morales, Bailey, Okajima

The Yankees will face an uphill battle if they attempt to void Alex Rodriguez's contract due to his alleged ties to a Miami PED clinic.  The use of banned substances alone may not be enough to 86 a contract, but a former agent tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that they could try to prove there was fraud prior to the contract being signed.  In that situation, the Bombers would try to show that A-Rod lied about taking PEDs and therefore the contract was agreed to under false pretenses.  Here's more from today's column, with a heavy dose of news on current and former members of the Red Sox..

  • There has been speculation that the Mets are trying to get MLB to allow them to keep their first-round pick if they sign Michael Bourn.  According to a Mets source, they are still trying to determine whether they can get him to sign and they'll only go all out on the compensation issue if they determine that they can. 
  • A few teams contacted the Red Sox about left-hander Franklin Morales this winter and a few others are watching him closely in spring training.  Teams are intrigued by Morales’s starting capability and are especially interested to see if he can consistently maintain his 96 mph fastball over a full outing.  If Gio Gonzalez winds up being penalized for his alleged link to the PED clinic in Miami, Cafardo believes that the Nationals may be interested in Morales.
  • Andrew Bailey is another Red Sox pitcher who will be watched by scouts.  There are still teams out there who could use a closer like the Tigers and Mets and Boston might listen for the right return.
  • A few teams are interested in signing Hideki Okajima to a minor league deal, but he hasn’t made up his mind yet.  The left-hander was recently released by his Japanese team so that he could pursue a return to the majors.
  • Teams like the Astros and Mets are kicking around the possibility of bringing Daisuke Matsuzaka to camp to see if he can recapture the form he had in his first two seasons in Boston.  He could also head back to Japan if he doesn't feel that he has a good chance of making a big league roster.  Last month, a Mets insider told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that he didn't believe the club reached out to Matsuzaka.
  • Derek Lowe wants to be a starting pitcher, but it appears that he will have to go settle for being a swingman.  The Mets and the Astros are possibilities.

AL West Notes: Kobayashi, Rangers, Trout, Wells

The Rangers and Nationals are waiting to hear if Nelson Cruz or Gio Gonzalez could face disciplinary action from Major League Baseball due to their possible connection to a clinic that sold performance-enhancing drugs, but though both teams are in limbo with these key players, ESPN's Jim Bowden doesn't think either team will jump quickly to find replacements until more facts are known.  As it happens, Bowden says both clubs were already looking to improve in those areas before the news of this PED scandal broke — the Nats were known to want pitching depth and the Rangers were in need of another power hitter.  Bowden suspects the Rangers will make a move for a big bat closer to the trade deadline.

Here are some more items from around the AL West…

  • The Angels are close to signing right-hander Hiroyuki Kobayashi to a minor league deal, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter link).  Kobayashi, 34, has pitched out of the bullpen for Chiba Lotte and Hanshin for the last three seasons.  He last explored a move to MLB when he became a free agent following the 2010 season, when he was linked to the Pirates and Diamondbacks in rumors.
  • It wouldn't make sense for the Rangers to sign Michael Bourn to replace Cruz, argues MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, since "a five-year contract to cover a two-month need seems a bit extreme."  The Rangers didn't make a big push for a center fielder this winter since they like Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin as CF options.
  • The Angels haven't talked to Mike Trout's representatives about an extension for the young star, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports.  Trout is under team control through the 2017 season and is still two seasons away from arbitration eligibility.  Those arb years will get expensive if Trout continues his superb play but, as Gonzalez notes, big-market clubs like the Angels can afford pricey arbitration payouts and thus don't quite feel the pressure that smaller-market clubs have to lock up their young stars early.
  • Casper Wells has turned into something of an afterthought on the Mariners roster and could become trade bait if the M's were to add another outfielder like Bourn, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  Wells struggled when given regular at-bats last season and Baker wonders if the club has given up on the player who was "possibly the front-liner" of the trade package the Mariners received in the Doug Fister deal.

Poll: Michael Bourn’s Next Contract

Michael Bourn entered the offseason as one of the most sought-after free agents in baseball, considered by all authorities (including MLBTR's Tim Dierkes) to be one of the top players available this winter. February is just a few days away, however, and not only is Bourn still unsigned, but he's lacking in obvious suitors that have both the need and the available finances to make a deal. 

Bourn's and agent Scott Boras' demands for a contract in the neighbourhood of five years/$75MM haven't helped open up the market, nor has the fact that signing Bourn would cost a team a high draft pick due to Bourn's rejection of the Braves' qualifying offer.  While the Mets may appeal to MLB in an attempt to sign Bourn and still keep their 11th overall draft choice, it seems unlikely that the league will acquiesce.

Besides the compensatory details, it may be that teams are simply unwilling to commit that much money to a 30-year-old player whose value lies in his speed (257 steals over the last five years) and defense (a +22.5 UZR/150 in center field in 2012), no matter how much Bourn may excel in those categories.  The Mariners, for example, have been linked to Bourn this winter but it is believed that Seattle isn't keen to sign another speed-and-defense oriented free agent given how the Chone Figgins signing backfired on the club.  MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith listed a number of possible suitors for Bourn last month, a list from which we can probably remove at least the Phillies, Indians, Yankees, Braves and Dodgers in the wake of subsequent moves. 

You would think that Bourn's demands would drop given such a seemingly limited market…but this is Scott Boras we're talking about, an agent who has made a career out of getting his clients big deals when none seem available.  That said, Boras could also explore a shorter-term or so-called "pillow contract" for Bourn so the outfielder can re-visit the free market next winter.  Will Bourn take a short-term deal, lower his asking price, or will Boras pull another rabbit out of his hat?