FEB. 22: Bourn’s deal also comes with up to $3.5MM worth of incentives based on plate appearances, reports Crasnick (Twitter link). In total, the contract can max out at $5.5MM with enough playing time.
FEB. 20: The Orioles have reached agreement on a contract with outfielder Michael Bourn, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com first reported (via Twitter). It’s a minor-league pact that comes with a camp invite, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. Bourn would earn $2MM if he cracks the MLB roster, per Heyman.
Bourn, who is a client of Lagardere Sports, will have a chance to opt out of his deal if he isn’t added to the 40-man late in camp, though there’s a bit of discord on the date. ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) has it as March 25th, while Kubatko tweets that it’s actually the 27th. Regardless, the veteran will be able to seek greener pastures if the team decides not to commit to him.
At 34 years of age, Bourn is no longer the player he once was when starring in center field for the Braves. But he showed that there’s still some gas left in the tank during his stint late last year with the O’s, earning plaudits from the Baltimore front office and field staff.
Over 55 plate appearances in Baltimore, Bourn slashed .283/.358/.435 and drew six walks against nine strikeouts. Those numbers compared favorably to his best full seasons in the majors, when he was rarely much more than a league-average hitter but nonetheless added significant value with the glove and on the bases.
Of course, that’s rather a small sample, and the broader recent picture isn’t as favorable. Bourn’s offensive production has lagged since he signed on with the Indians in advance of the 2013 season, and he has struggled in particular over the last two seasons.
Even if it would be optimistic to expect Bourn’s late-2016 work at the plate to carry over, there’s reason to hope he can make a strong contribution. The veteran still rates well on the bases, and rates as at least a roughly average fielder. While the O’s already have two lefty platoon outfielders penciled into their roster, Seth Smith and Hyun Soo Kim, neither is capable of playing center. Bourn figures to compete with Joey Rickard and minor-league signees Craig Gentry and Logan Schafer for a bench spot in camp.