Michael Bourn Rumors
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.
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.
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).
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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?
In the wake of Nelson Cruz's connection to a Miami-based clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to several MLB players, the Rangers released an official response (transcribed by ESPN Dallas) saying that they were contacted about the story by the Miami New Times last week and then themselves contacted Major League Baseball. Beyond these details, the club had "no further comment" about the allegations.
Here are some more items out of Arlington...
- If Cruz ends up having to serve a 50-game suspension, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett doesn't think the Rangers would respond by signing Michael Bourn. Texas isn't interested in signing Bourn to the four- or five-year deal that he desires but could possibly explore a shorter-term agreement if Bourn lowers his demands. If lieu of a new acquisition, Durrett notes that the Rangers could use internal options to replace Cruz, such as moving Mike Olt, Ian Kinsler or Mitch Moreland to the outfield.
- The Rangers had a "preliminary chat" with the Rockies about Carlos Gonzalez, MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby reports, but the talks didn't lead anywhere since the Rangers weren't willing to give up Olt or Jurickson Profar. Several teams asked Colorado about Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings but were told the outfielder wasn't available.
- Also from Ringolsby's piece, Rangers president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels were satisfied with the team's fairly low-key offseason, despite missing out on signing Zack Greinke and losing Josh Hamilton to the Angels. "You have to guard against overreacting to something someone else did or not getting the players you anticipated," said Ryan. "When things don't work out the way you hoped, you have to step back, digest the circumstances, and figure out what to do to keep moving forward."
Michael Bourn is the top unsigned free agent, but it will cost a top draft pick to sign the center fielder. He declined the Braves’ qualifying offer earlier this offseason, meaning the team that signs him must surrender a top selection in June (the precise placement of the pick would vary from team to team). Teams seem reluctant to part with their draft picks for Bourn, but agent Scott Boras appears to be seeking a $75MM contract for his client nonetheless. Here’s the latest...
- Bourn's camp is working to persuade Alderson that signing Bourn would give the Mets credibility when pursuing free agents a year from now, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (on Twitter).
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson and assistant GM John Ricco travelled to Houston last week to dine with Bourn and Boras, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. Though the sides didn’t engage in intense negotiations over dinner, it’s clear there’s a gap between Bourn’s asking price and the Mets’ interest level. The Mets don’t want to offer more than three years and they wonder if any other team is willing to go beyond the $40MM range.
- It’s possible that Bourn could accept a shorter term deal if it includes an opt out clause that would provide him with the option of hitting free agency again a year from now. The Mets “could be amenable” to such a deal, Sherman writes.
- Alderson will not sign Bourn without complete assurances that the Mets get to keep their first round selection, Sherman reports. The Mets’ 11th overall pick is unprotected, but the commissioner’s office doesn’t seem willing to grant the team the exception it seeks. Other clubs are lobbying MLB not to do the Mets this favor, Sherman reports. Though the MLBPA would file a grievance supporting the Mets if Bourn asks the association for support, an arbitrator wouldn’t necessarily rule in favor of an exception.
Free agent right-hander Javier Vazquez is getting his right meniscus repaired by one of the Marlins’ team doctors this Wednesday, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (Twitter links). The right-hander is expected to be throwing at full strength within two to three weeks. Though seven teams have expressed serious interest in Vazquez, he has not made a decision about playing in 2013 as of now. Here are some more links from around MLB...
- Right-hander Scott Atchison expects to sign a minor league deal with a team other than the Red Sox this week, writes MLB.com's Evan Drellich. Atchison told Drellich it the team he's closing in on will give him a good chance to make the Major League bullpen. Atchison was diagnosed with a partial UCL tear last August but has had "great results" in letting it heal with rest and rehab.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Pirates expressed interest in Freddy Garcia, but the 36-year-old hurler elected to sign a minor league deal with the Padres instead.
- Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers have officially agreed to a 25-year, $7 billion TV deal, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reports. The agreement will lead to the creation of a new regional sports network for the Los Angeles area; SportsNet L.A will launch in 2014.
- The Rays signed free agent infielder Kelly Johnson today, but that won’t stop Ben Zobrist from playing “a lot” of second base for Tampa Bay, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Johnson, who played 79 games in left field as a rookie in 2005, will bounce around.
- Michael Bourn still wants a five-year deal, yet the Mets aren't willing to go there, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (on Twitter). Here’s an explanation of how the Mets wanted to sign Bourn while keeping their first round draft pick this coming season.