The Braves have designated outfielder Michael Bourn for assignment, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes (Twitter links). They also selected the contracts of outfielder Drew Stubbs and reliever Alexi Ogando. The Braves signed Stubbs to a minor-league deal earlier this week, adding the veteran to a crowded outfield picture, and Stubbs’ addition as a potential backup center fielder likely made the Braves feel Bourn (and Emilio Bonifacio, who was also cut this morning) no longer had much use for them.
As O’Brien points out, the Braves’ two highest-paid players this year will be Bourn and Nick Swisher, both of whom are now gone. Of course, some of Bourn’s $14MM and Swisher’s $15MM will be paid by the Indians, who signed both players before sending them to Atlanta for Chris Johnson in an exchange of bad contracts. Bourn is in the last year of his deal — he has a vesting option for 2017, but almost certainly won’t get enough plate appearances this season for it to vest.
Bourn’s decline since signing that contract in early 2013 has been swift. His hitting has declined from .274/.348/.391 in 2012 to .238/.310/.282 last year, and his once-terrific defense has declined, too — UZR, for example, rated Bourn as 23.3 runs above average in center in 2012 and 2.5 runs below last season. Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising, since outfield defense doesn’t seem to age particularly well. Whatever the case, Bourn no longer served an obvious purpose on a rebuilding Braves team already featuring plenty of outfielders, including Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Hector Olivera, Jeff Francoeur and Stubbs.