Well here’s a surprising rumor for your Friday night.

According to Bruce Levine, citing a major league source, the Chicago Cubs have spoken with Michael Bourn’s agent about the free agent center fielder.

Some brake-pumping before I get into the merits:

(1) The Cubs are likely to do due diligence on virtually every single free agent, so conversations with his agent might be little more than that.

(2) Scott Boras, Bourn’s agent, is known to be all too happy to circulate stories like this when they involve a large market team having interest in one of his big-name free agents. It helps drive up the price.

(3) The Cubs are not expected to “go for it” in 2013, and big money free agent’s like Bourn are unlikely to be a part of the near-term plan, all rumors aside.

(4) How likely is Bourn to come to a team like the Cubs, unless they overpay massively, or buy up a bunch of other free agents in the near-term to show an immediate commitment to winning?

That all said, you guys know my mantra: you have to sign free agents when they’re actually available. If the Cubs believe Bourn can be an important piece of, for example, the 2014 team, well, they’ve got to sign him now if they want him.

Is Bourn the right fit? Well, candidly, I’ve never been a fan of going all in on Bourn as a free agent. He’s going to command a contract in the vicinity of – OK, probably north of – the five-year, $75 million deal B.J. Upton just signed with the Braves. Bourn is turning 30 later this month, and he is, inarguably, a “speed” guy (i.e., a guy who derives a great deal of his offensive and defensive value from being very fast). They tend not to age well, and you’d think Theo Epstein might feel a little nervous about signing another 30ish speed guy to a huge deal after Carl Crawford’s debacle in Boston.

Bourn obviously does a lot of things very well – he gets on base, he sees a lot of pitches, he disrupts on the bases, and he plays stellar defense in center field. I wouldn’t hate to have him on the team. I’m just not convinced that a six-year, $90 million deal for him is the best use of the team’s resources in the coming years.

Interestingly, when asked today about pursuing outfield options, GM Jed Hoyer noted that the Cubs wouldn’t overlook veteran additions in the outfield because of their prospects, saying that the best ones are still years away. In other words, if the Cubs *did* add someone like Bourn, it would likely have no impact on Albert Almora or Jorge Soler’s development (there will be two additional outfield spots open within a year or two at the latest regardless, with Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus under team control through only 2014). Further, many see Brett Jackson – if he makes it as a starter in the bigs – as a corner outfielder, so there might not be a meaningful impact there, either (or, Jackson could become a trade piece).

That’s all my long and winding way of saying what I’ve said before: I think the Cubs should be looking very hard at the outfield free agent market, and should be willing to commit to a big timer if they feel it’s the right fit. I’m not sure Bourn is that guy, but I’ll sure be giving it some thought now. Gut says: this doesn’t make a ton of sense.

We’ll have to see if anything more comes of this. If the Cubs really do have legitimate interest in Bourn, I can say with certainty that they aren’t planning on having a 100 loss team for another couple years. You don’t sign a speed guy entering his 30s to a huge deal unless you’re going to be planning on winning some games in the next couple seasons.

Final thought: if the Cubs really do pursue Bourn, I see absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t also have interest in someone like Anibal Sanchez. Bourn did receive a qualifying offer from the Braves, by the way, so he would cost the Cubs their second round pick, a very minor consideration (and, arguably, an advantage for the Cubs.)

  • FiveFifty550

    I don’t see this making sense for the Cubs at all.

    • Mike

      Agreed. Unless Bourn agrees to a 2 or 3 year contract worth 20-30 MIL, which is not going to happen.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Would we lose a 2nd round pick if we signed Bourn? and would that pick go to atlanta?

    • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

      Yes. No.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      scratch that. didnt read the whole article. we would lose a second round pick

  • Noah

    No on a long term deal for Bourn. Way too much of his value comes from his legs for me to be comfortable signing him to a 5 year deal that starts in his age 30 season. Once he loses a couple of steps (and our Alfonso Soriano experience tells us that can happen very quickly), there are good odds he is not even an average MLB regular anymore.

  • marcelj21

    No.any team that signs bourn will regret that contract in a few years. Chone figgins 2.0

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I agree. good comparison. but I think bourn will be much better the figgins though. figgins wasnt the same level of player that bourn is in my opinion.

    • ChicagoMike702

      Not the same, Figgins was an average defender who didn’t really have a position, plus he was 2 years older. Bourn is one of the best OFers in all of baseball at saving runs.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I would have rather them go after bj upton then bourn. Younger more upside in my opinion. I think we should sign someone like brandon mccarthy and also sign kyuji fujikawa the japanese reliever and the 2 new cuban free agents rather then spend the same amount it would take to sign just Bourn. I think we should still be in the flip player for prospects mode for another year and then start looking at more big name free agents next year. Plus losing that high 2nd round pick hurts

  • Rizzofanclub

    I love Bourn but he’s not going to get what he wants when it comes to years or salary. I say offer him a 5 yr 75 mil and don’t budge. If he gets more than good for him, I know he’s a speed guy and will loose some of that when he’s 34 but the guy takes a ton of pitches and plays great defense.

  • fortyonenorth

    We’ve talked about the concept of “buying” prospects before. What’s to stop the Cubs–barring a no-trade clause–from signing Bourne and them flipping him (along with a whole lot of salary relief) for prospects at some point?

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      We don’t to be labeled as the Marlins. but not a bad idea. I think it wouln’t be terrible to sign him and then have him keep the seat warm for almora then with abot 1-2 years left on the contract flip him for prospects

  • TH

    Bourn = Pierre (pre 2007)…I would take him for a few years…BB% is much higher for Bourn but I agree with some of the previous posts that he is the epitome of the “Cubs Way”…assuming he is who he projects himself as. If we do sign him to a Cub friendly contract; one of two things will happen…Cubs will go balls out or flip him. Hopefully it’s the latter but either is fine.

  • Ben

    I wonder what other teams are in the market for Bourne. I think Boras is using the Cubs to drum up interest. I think the Phillies are interested, but I highly doubt they can meet his price. They are pretty maxed out as it is, and need to address 3rd base badly. With both Atlanta and Washington filling their needs, I think Bourne may be stuck. Clearly the Yankees won’t be involved, Boston has Jacoby, and the Dodgers are loaded in the OF.

    All that to say, I think the Cubs should talk with Boras. If Bourne would take a 3-4 year deal, at 12-15 per, I would be highly interested. Like Brett said, you have to sign FA when they are available. I think Bourne is far better than Pierre, because Pierre was never a good defensive OF, and he never took walks.

  • Bill

    Correct, and Pierre had the worst arm in baseball until Campana arrived.

  • Kyle

    I really hate the phrase “go for it.” You should always go for it. Maybe sometimes you try a little harder and maybe sometimes you pull back a tiny amount, but there’s not some full stop/scorched earth alternatives at work here.

    • Ben

      Exactly. And, I’m not saying give Bourne 7 years and 100 million. But if the price is reasonable, he’s a nice asset.

      And really, if you sign Bourne, another SP (McCarthy, Marcum), and add Keppinger, they could be a semi interesting team if a few breaks (mostly health related) go their way. I don’t think the Orioles expected to do what they did last year, so you just never know. I’d rather make smart baseball decisions than just saying we shouldn’t spend money because we are rebuilding. Bourne may end up a bust. But at the right price, I would be willing to find out.

  • Kyle

    To be honest, Bourn would not be my first choice among the CFers that were available at the start of the offseason. But he’d be so much better than nothing at all.

    • USS

      I’d take a shot with anybody at AAA before that.

  • http://www.cwsnaturally.com Evolution

    Until there is blinding, choking smoke on this…I’ve just got to believe this is Boras driving up the market. Makes no sense to me.

  • CrAzyHorSe

    “The Cubs are not expected to “go for it” in 2013, and big money free agent’s like Bourn are unlikely to be a part of the near-term plan, all rumors aside”

    Bourn is now considered a big money free agent? Maybe the most money under Theo’s watch but he is not a big free agent. He is a compliment piece and that is all. Yet it would be an improvement especially in a chess match. That is a compliment. to Theo, I hope they sign him and then align the pieces to compliment within the year .

    • CrAzyHorSe

      I would love to say Theo did checkmate in 3 moves.

  • Dustin S

    I would love to see Bourn just in that this team needs a true leadoff hitter sooo badly. I have to admit though that I’d have to wonder about any big free agent that came to the 2nd worst team in baseball. It would look like they’re just coming here for the check. So it’s probably more likely to be his agent stirring up the rumor mill to try to drive up his price

    • CrAzyHorSe

      You are correct. The Cubs have a slim window of opportunity. The Infield is solid minus third base and most teams catcher are average.. The Cubs infield should get better. Only if the CUbs Keep Soriano and he can still produce the team will produce. Signing Bourn will let the Cubs bat people in more productive line up. according to thier OBP and ability. This would help the Cubs offensively tremndously and be peoductive thier in offence. . 3b will be filled by Hendry draft pick and Theo”s outfielders will man the corners in2- 3 years .All the Cubs need is a starting rotation. signing 1 solid Sp and 1 international RP wold make the cUbs very decent , (not over the top cause they dont have a 3b) but decent .

      • CrAzyHorSe

        And marmol goes to be a very expensive set up man.

  • CrAzyHorSe

    But if the CUbs sign Bourn and then trade soriano with a good year and trade marmol with no bullpen help and play moneyball/ rebuild for two years then the cubs have anthor 901plus loss seasonand signing bourn is just plain dumb.

  • Huey Lewis

    Not a bad idea at all. But let’s consider the source. It’s Bruce. Bruce has an alarming tendency to report it and then say “never happened.” Maybe he earned the right to simply make stuff up. I don’t know.

    Other great news today? Doug Padilla exiled to the Sox beat Jesse Rogers leaves hockey to do the Cubs. As Padilla is one Of the worst beat writers around and I’ve been a fan of Jesse Rogers for years. Good day Cubs media.

  • Alex

    This is my dream signing! While we will again suck in 2013.. a speed guy like Bourn will bring excitement to the ballpark. When we compete again, he could play a major role. Pick up Bourn, trade Brett Jackson while he still has value (he will NEVER make it in the majors). Also, Bourn doubled his average home runs this past season and had his 2nd best statistical season ever. I’m all for this. Don’t overpay like the Braves did for Upton though.

  • cubsin

    Just say no to Bourn. He’s going to get something along the lines of B.J. Upton’s contract, which was 5/$75.25. Once his legs go, he’ll be worthless. Soriano was still able to hit home runs and drive in runs, even after his legs were gone. Bourn would be, at best, a poor man’s David DeJesus. Scott Boras isn’t going to settle for either the dollars or the years the Cubs might reasonably offer Bourn.

  • terencem

    I’m sure Epstein would love to do to someone else with respect to Bourn what Cashman did to him with respect to Crawford.

  • Eric

    “Scott Boras”. I think you nailed it right there Brett. You all remember last year the story that was circulating about Prince Fielder? “Fielder really likes the Cubs, Fielder wants to play for the Cubs”. I can’t believe I fell for that trick again. I seriously thought for a second we were actually after Bourn. It’s the oldest trick in the book, it’s the car salesman “I’m your friend trick”. Now I don’t even believe the story not even for a second. Thanks for the reality check there Brett.

  • kmr1453

    Just from reading some of the comments, many of you are saying, no, no, no to a Bourn signing for various reasons, but who do you want? Who would make you giddy if they got the CF job for the Chicago Cubs? Are you just looking for a stop gap until we can pounce in a few years on a big time FA? We all know, the Cubs are still a few years away from truly being competitive. We also know, we don’t want to live through another 100+ loss season. The Front Office has a tough job of putting together a season-after-season competitive team, without breaking the bank and without angering the fan base.

    The Rickett’s have the money to go out and buy a championship team right now. In a few years, once they gel, we could be looking at a winner. As we know, a team looks better on paper. If buying a championship doesn’t pan out, then we a right back to where we started. A weak minor league system and one that can’t develop the youth.

    • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

      For me, not wanting to sign Bourn is more about that his wOBA indicates he is about as valuable as DeJesus but wants 3 times the money than anything else. What value that is there is tied to a really high BABIP that is a by-product of his speed. Since speed is the first thing to go he will rapidly lose value.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The Rickett’s have the money to go out and buy a championship team right now.

      One one hand, you can write that about most of the owners (or consortia of owners) for MLB teams.

      On the other hand, this is a weak free agent class, and some of the key holes that the Cubs need to fill either are unavailable (there are no 3BMen worth signing), or have only suspect players (Bourn, Hamilton, etc.) to fill them. Add to that point #1 – this limited market is being divvied up by multiple teams with the same needs who can afford these players – and we have a winter where nobody is going to be able to buy a winner.

      • mudge

        Please don’t confuse us with the facts.

  • Jed

    I personally would take both Pagan and Hamilton before I’d take Bourn. With that being said, I still wouldn’t mind seeing Bourn in Cubbie blue for the right deal.

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