Whoa: The Cubs Have Spoken with Michael Bourn’s Agent?

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.)

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

132 responses to “Whoa: The Cubs Have Spoken with Michael Bourn’s Agent?”

  1. ChicagoMike702

    If he’s in the same ballpark as Upton (5 years for $75M) I’m open to this, any more $ or more years for Bourn I think is a big mistake.

  2. Alec

    IF we sign him I think we should go after anibal Sanchez and then trade Brett Jackson and maybe a guy like Travis wood for chase Headly.

    1. ChicagoMike702

      I think I’d trade the whole team for Chase Headly.

  3. Drew7

    No thanks.

    Figgins v 2.0

  4. cubsin

    Bourn on a two or three year deal? Maybe. Four, five or six, just say “No!”

  5. USS

    No way! Come on Theo. This guy reminds me of Milto Bradley. No Way!

    1. ChicagoMike702

      Other than both being OFers, I don’t see any similarities between the two.

      1. DarthHater

        They also have the same initials. :-0

      2. TC

        they’re black! and…uh…that;s the only thing that could even remotely connect the two…

        1. USS

          My point was that the Cubs are going after a guy with a pretty good year and would be taking on something that is likely to NOT pay off.

          1. TC

            yeah, but they’re like, completely and totally different players…that’s such an odd connection to make. MOST guys in FA don’t end up being worth their contracts

          2. King Jeff

            Bourn has had 4 pretty good years in a row, nothing like Bradley’s, and he brings none of the baggage. If the deal isn’t too hampering on the backside, I see no reason not to go for it.

            1. USS

              Yikes! What do you mean by GOOD yeras?

              1. King Jeff

                He hit .280 over the last 4 years with his OBP above .340, and averaging 53 steals a year in that span. What do YOU define as good years? From what I see, last year is pretty much what Bourn has been for the last 4 years, so I’m not really sure why you think he’s a one year wonder.

                1. USS

                  I just keep thinking Milton Bradley here.

                  1. Lou

                    I’d say more like Kenny Lofton.

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      That makes more sense and if we can get Kenny Lofton again I’d be happy.

                    2. USS

                      Maybe.

                  2. MichiganGoat

                    Yeah because Borne has show a history of mental instability and will certainly go crazy if we sign him- sure. This comparison makes no sense they not even similar players.

                    1. USS
                    2. MichiganGoat

                      Okay so your sole reason to compare Borne to Bradley is that he might be a bust? If that is so I see where you are coming from but you could make that comparison for any player since anyone can be a bust. I’m not huge on Borne but he is no Bradley- maybe Crawford but there are few Bradleys.

            2. USS

              *years*

  6. Lone Ranger

    I would love to see Bourn in a Cubs uniform. The core players on the Cubs need to know what it takes to be on a contending team.

  7. ColoCubFan

    I seem to remember a nearly 30 yr. old speed guy the Cubs signed a few years back. Let’s see, what was his name ? Alfonso something or other…

    1. TC

      Alfonso Soriano hit more home runs in 2006 than Bourn has hit in his entire career. Soriano, while fast and he stole a lot of bases, was not a “speed” guy, he was a slugger first who happened to swipe a lot of bags

    2. Lone Ranger

      Was Soriano the best defensve CF in the NL? You can’t really compare the two players. Totally different skill sets

    3. USS

      Ha! That’s right.

  8. DarthHater
  9. hansman1982

    I am starting to wonder about the “sign free agents when you can”. This is certainly true of the truly elite talent but of someone of upton/bourn/Sanchez level?

    1. DarthHater

      Agreed.

    2. TC

      with you 100%, Hansman

  10. TC

    The aging curves on guys like Bourn are not great. The second he loses a step he loses over a win in value. The bat has to have secondary skills in it to outlast the inevitable slowing down process as he gets past 30 years old

  11. MightyBear

    Not sure about Bourn. Depends on length of contract and how much. Would like to see the Cubs get a true leadoff hitter. I’ve been complaining about that since Hendry didn’t resign Lofton.

  12. rsikes

    Hey guys, long time reader first time poster.

    How do you add a pic to your profile?

    1. DarthHater

      use gravatar.com

    2. MichiganGoat

      Go to gravatar.com and make sure the email you set up there is the same you use here, very easy. Welcome have fun.

      1. TC

        It’s probably about time I did that, right? Its only been a year and a half…

        1. David

          No need to rush into these things.

  13. Tommy

    Price of free agents is going to continue to go up with teams like the Dodgers signing new T.V. contracts. I say sign the guy. In a few years, his contract won’t look so bad imo, and it would just be nice to actually have a real base stealing threat at the top of the lineup for a change.

  14. Dan

    Bruce Levine is a moron….Talking to someone and pursuing a 30 yr old slap hiitter are two different things. This guy is NEVER right.

    1. ChicagoMike702

      I worked in the Chicago sports media several years back and having been in PC’s with him, I can confirm that he is indeed a moron. A terrible writer too.

  15. Luke

    I’d take him. Ideally I’d prefer a somewhat shorter deal, but if it took 5 years, $60 million or so to land him, I wouldn’t argue.

    Even when his speed starts to decline, I think he’ll still get on base at a high rate. His career walk rate is 8.8% (quite good), and was well over 9% in five of the last seven years. If his speed vanishes to the point where he is no longer effective as a lead off hitter, he’ll still be a quality 7/8 guy while playing plus defense.

    No, he’s not exactly the player I would tailor make for the Cubs, but he fills a need and is available now. The Cubs could do better, but not easily. The time to acquire assets a team needs to be very good isn’t after they are already very good, it is when those assets are available.

    1. USS

      Sorry Luke, I would take my chances with up and coming kids.

      1. Luke

        I don’t see the conflict. If Almora and Soler surprise us all and crash into the majors in late 2014, then the Cubs would have an outfield of Bourn, Almora, and Soler. I don’t see that as a bad thing at all.

        1. USS

          Would not Bourn be 32 by then? Not being smart, but would this a smart trade?

          1. Luke

            It wouldn’t be a trade. The Cubs would be giving up nothing but money… something they have plenty of. He wouldn’t block anyone, harm any progression, force the Cubs to trade any prospects, take up so much money they would not be able to bid on other free agents or lock up their own players, etc.

            Like I said, he’s not the ideal player, but if the contract isn’t too rich, I’d still take him.

            1. USS

              I’ll buy that. Point taken for sure.

    2. MightyBear

      I agree with the Lukester. Again depends on length of K.

    3. Ben (BG2383)

      5/60 would not even come close to getting him

    4. Lou

      Why not wait to see if Garza healthy and before the season starts trade him to KC for Cain? I know Kenny Lofton was a speedster until late in his playing career and this is a the guy I would compare Bourn most with–but Scott Boras is the agent….so they’re you have it.

  16. DarthHater

    I’d be willing to bet my Sith Lord membership card that this Bourn thing is a rumor planted by Boras.

    1. Luke

      This is by far the most likely scenario.

    2. MightyBear

      I agree. Right before the winter meetings too. Hmmmm.

    3. DocPeterWimsey

      Why not as Darth Boras at your next meeting?

  17. Richard Nose

    I like picturing lot of scenarios with guys ending up in Cubs uniforms. Bourn’s a stud, would be a great fit at leadoff, but the probable decline in speed over the next 5 years makes me really hope they don’t sign him.

    1. Richard Nose

      Unless of course they get a decent deal on him, Theo says he wont overpay for future performace, Bourn’s speed is a prime example. Get a reasonabe deal, maybe have Jackson ready to move in a Garza deal, then Bourn’s your guy til Almora is ready. Of course none of that will likely pan out.

  18. MightyBear

    I will say this, I like Bruce Levine, but he’s seldom correct with his rumors. I dont mean his information is bad, Theo/Jed probably did talk to Boras about Bourn. I mean the Cubs rarely seem to sign guys that Levine says in his rumors. I guess that’s why they’re called……rumors.

  19. rsikes

    Let’s see if gravatar worked…

    1. rsikes

      Nope

      1. TWC

        Yup.

    2. DarthHater

      Sometimes it takes a few minutes before your picture kicks in.

  20. Don

    Signing Bourne would be a stupid move. Don’t need another
    slap hitter.

  21. louis

    If we sign a soon to be 30 year old outfielder to a large multi year contract then we have to be in the market for just about anything, right?

  22. cubchymyst

    I think this is just Theo and Jed trying to stay on Boras good side. Has there been any talk of Bourn being a workout fanatic? If so he might not experience a large decline.

  23. DarthHater

    Boras: Hey, Jed. Scott Boras here.
    Hoyer: Morning, Scott. What can I do for you?
    Boras: Well, I hear your team needs a center fielder. You realize I represent one of the very best available?
    Hoyer: Yea, I also hear you’re looking for a nine-figure deal. Is that right?
    Boras: He’s more than worth it, Jed.
    Hoyer: Good luck with that, Scott. Talk to you later.
    Boras: Bye, Jed.

    Boras [to Levine]: This is not for attribution, of course, but I just had a conversation with Jed Hoyer about Michael Bourn.

    1. Dan

      Exactly – remember Bruce also reported Marmol for Haren was a DONE deal

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Well, in a sense, the deal was done: it just fell apart after the two teams (and relevant players) agreed to the terms.

  24. Lone Ranger

    Should we be hearing about the Cubs non-tendered players soon?

  25. Adventurecizin' Justin

    I’d be shocked if we signed Bourn. I would probably enjoy him for the first 2 or 3 years of the deal and then hope we can eat some salary for a decent prospect the last 2 or 3 years. Bourn doesn’t fit The Plan, in my opinion.

  26. The Dude

    If they could sign him for 4 years, I’d be all for it. At five years, the money needs to be similar to Upton’s deal for me to like this signing.

    For me, the best part about signing Bourn is the identity he would give this team. I can definitely get used to watching CF’ers cut from this mold running down fly balls for the Cubs for years to come!

  27. BWA

    I’d rather spend the money on Sanchez

    1. The Dude

      How about Bourn and Sanchez? Like Brett suggests in the article. I’m guess that’s 30m/yr combined between the two – For the next 5 yrs.

      1. BWA

        Yes please haha

  28. lou brock lives

    “Bridge” players are not signed to 5 year $75 plus million dollars – think more like a trade for Coco Crisp with a $7.5 million salary for 2013 & option for 8 million for 2014. This is what the Cubs FO will be targeting.

    1. Richard Nose

      Bingo.

  29. cubfanincardinalland

    Four years, 68 million, I sign him up. Great ballplayer, plays the game all out the right way. Kind of player the Cubs are trying to develop.

    1. The Dude

      Completely agree. Slight overpay, sure, but this signing is more about establishing the “Cubs way” at the major league level. Sets the tone for what’s expected out of a CF coming up through the minors. Great defense, great base running, see a lot of pitches at the plate, good OBP, and a consummate professional.

  30. someday...2015?

    Hmm, not sure how I feel about this one. Would signing Bourn be our “Jason Werth signing?”(Referring to that article by Patrick Mooney) It would definitely be similar.

    1. USS

      They say no. But I hear you.

      1. someday...2015?

        If Bourn or I should say Boras is asking for 9 figures then I would say give up on Bourn immediately, but like Luke said above me, if the Cubs could somehow get him for 5 years at 60-70M then im all for it. Almora, Bourn, Soler in 2015 or 16 sounds good to me. The best part is if Bourn is a step slower by then you could easily move him to left where his loss of speed won’t show(ask Soriano) and you get to keep Almora at his natural position. At 9 figures no, 60-70M for 5 years yes.

    2. hansman1982

      HoorayJayson Werth has also been dang near worthless for the Nationals. They certainly could have found a better use of the money since then that would have better fit their window of competition.

      1. BD

        Not worth the contract? Quite possible.

        But “dang near worthless?” Not so sure about that.

        1. hansman1982

          Dang near worthless was a bit of hyperbole. So far he hasn’t been worth what he has been paid – $23M – it will be very interesting to see how much of his remaining $103M he earns.

    3. kranzman54

      Why do people talk like the Jayson Werth signing was a good move towards rebuilding? Yes, the Nationals were good, but I would argue it was despite Werth. He was hurt last year (WAR of .4) and played 150 games the year before and got a WAR of 1. Just because the Nats had a good year does not mean every signing they have is great. By those standards we need to praise the Barry Zito contract too.

      1. BD

        Just curious- where did you get those WAR numbers? (I see 2.5 in 2011, and then 1 in 2012 on FanGraphs.)