The Blue Jays and free agent center fielder Michael Bourn have agreed to a minor league deal, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The 33-year-old Bourn was designated for assignment by the Braves late in Spring Training and subsequently released.
Bourn is in the final season of a four-year, $48MM contract that he signed with the Indians heading into the 2013 season. Hamstring injuries began to slow Bourn down early in the deal, however, and Cleveland flipped him to Atlanta alongside Nick Swisher last summer in an exchange of bad contracts that sent Chris Johnson to the Indians. In the event that he surfaces on Toronto’s Major League roster, they’ll be responsible only for paying the pro-rated portion of the league minimum, as Atlanta is on the hook for the remainder of this 2016 salary.
Once a premier defensive center fielder with a roughly league-average bat and enormous contributions on the basepaths, Bourn has posted deflated offensive numbers over the life of his current contract, batting .253/.313/.336. Beyond that, the hamstring problems that have plagued him have also led to diminished baserunning contributions as he enters his mid-30s; Bourn averaged 51 stolen bases per season from 2008-12 (twice topping 60 steals), but he’s stolen a combined 50 bases in 75 attempts since signing with Cleveland.
Bourn provides the Blue Jays with some outfield depth and could potentially unseat current fourth outfielder Ezequiel Carrera at some point. The 28-year-old Carrera has never been much of a threat with the bat (career .257/.307/.346 batting line) and has logged just 742 Major League innings in center field with below-average ratings from Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating.