michael bourn bravesAs the offseason has gone on, and as his market has seemingly shrunk, the connections between Michael Bourn and the Chicago Cubs have increased. Not by way of rumors, mind you, but by fans, pundits, and analysts. We heard about the Cubs reaching out to Bourn’s agent (Scott Boras) on the free agent center fielder a month ago, but have not heard a single credible rumor attaching the two since then.

Still, the fans, pundits, and analysts churn.

Baseball Prospectus’ Ben Lindbergh took a look at the dwindling Bourn market, and concluded that there are three teams that can afford Bourn AND would benefit the most from his services: the Mariners, the Rangers, and the Cubs.

The article is of the premium variety, so I won’t offer too much of the content, but the gist, as far as the Cubs are concerned, is this: the Cubs have been aggressive in the free agent market, and, although they may be a couple years away from being competitive, Bourn’s asking price could drop such that he presents value to the Cubs. Adding Bourn also gives the Cubs even more flexibility to trade either Alfonso Soriano or David DeJesus without an overall performance drop in 2013.

For the Rangers and Mariners, the allure of Bourn is simply adding a quality player, given that each team has largely missed out on their offseason targets thus far.

My bet is that a team we’re not even thinking much about – the Brewers? the Braves? – comes out of nowhere with a deal that goes over the top on other teams. That would be an awfully Boras move, as it was last year with Prince Fielder and the Detroit Tigers.

It’s worth reiterating that, if the Cubs sign Bourn, they lose their second round pick. If the Mariners, Rangers, or Brewers sign Bourn, however, they lose their first round pick. That pain could be particularly severe for the Mariners and Brewers, who are currently slated to pick 12th and 17th, respectively.

Eno Sarris over at FanGraphs took up a similar topic (why can’t Bourn find a job?), and also listed the Cubs among many other teams (Mariners, Rangers, Astros, Mets) that could use Bourn’s services. The problem for Bourn, says Sarris, is that most of those teams aren’t really in the market for a big money center fielder, given their circumstance or adequate in-house options.

As the offseason goes on, and Bourn remains without a job (and the Cubs don’t make a move in the outfield), you’re going to continue to hear the Cubs attached to Bourn – whether you like it or not, and whether there’s meat there or not.

My position on Bourn and the Cubs remains unchanged: if his market so completely collapses that he has to settle for a deal at which point the Cubs can easily view him as an asset with surplus value (no more than four years and $50 to $60 million), then sure. Let’s see what can happen. But I would be shocked if he does have to settle for such a deal (and, if he does, the Cubs would be competing with a number of other teams).

  • Toby

    I’d rather not sign him and lose our 2nd round pick, which is liable to be a good prospect. He’ll be supplanted by Almora before you know it, and his bat doesn’t play in a corner spot.

  • nkniacc13

    The Cubs 2nd rd pick this coming year is basically what a supp 1sr rd pick would have in previous drafts no way do I want to give that up to sign Bourn especially if your going to build thru the farm system

    • blublud

      No good GM worries about losing a pick when signing the free agent that they want or need. If you don’t like bourn, fine. If you do like Bourn, but wouldn’t sign him because of the draft pick, then you would be doing your team a disservice.

      • nkniacc13

        Id consider signing Bourn to a 1 year deal especially if I think I could flip him at the deadline for a better than a 2nd rd pick. But I don’t look at giving him a 3 year deal or so especially at the money he is asking for when his biggest strength is his speed and that’s the first skill to go.

        • Marcel91

          Blud, tell that to all the teams that have passed on Soriano, Lohse, Laroche, etc because of the compensation linked to them. Especially Lohse. Its not just about
          The draft pick, you also lose the draft money associated with it which alot of teams value

          • nkniacc13

            And for the Cubs thats a lot of $ especially if they were to go with someone like Manea that may take sub slot value with their 1st pick

          • blublud

            No doubt, but the success rate of a second round pick, and the ability to underslot that pick to use the money in the later rounds on a guy even less likely to make the Majors should not be a reason NOT to sign the free agent that you want. If teams are passing on these players because of the pick, it’s because they think the player is worth less then the value of the pick, not because they are scared to lose the pick. They is no way any one on this board can say they wouldn’t trade for Bourn for a second pick if he was making league minimum. So he is definitely worth the pick. Now the question becomes do you think he is worth the money. If you do not, then I understand that point. I personnally think he’s worth anything less then 16 million over 5 yrs. But not signing him because you think he is not worth 16 million and not signing him because you think he’s not worth a draft pick is 2 totally different things.

            • Dr. Percival Cox

              What about to underslot the pick to sign Appel.

              • Blublud

                Considering I think Appel is overrated, I’ll pass. Appel is the most MLB ready and could reach the majors in less then a year if not instantly(it happens, but its rare) but he is not the best pitcher in the draft. In fact, some early mock drafts have couple pitchers going in front of him.

                • Marcel91

                  Not to mention he has been overused and has alot of mileage on that arm.

              • Kevin B

                With the 2nd round pick which should be #2 in that round, the Cubs could get a real good prospect, but you want them to pass on a good prospect so they can underslot the pick and use the money to sign Appel?

                Why? Like others stated here, he is not even the best pitcher in the draft and if the Cubs do take him with the 2nd pick in the first round that is plenty of money for him, whats he going to do walk again like last year.

                He does not have the option of going back to College next time, he has no leverage. Just because he wants more money? Too bad. In fact he should pray the Cubs take him otherwise he will drop again and lost more money, just like he screwed up last year by playing hard ball with the Astro’s. If he wants top dollar he will be lucky if the Astros take him.

        • Kevin B

          A one year deal makes no sense, you lose the 2nd round pick for nothing as there is no guarantee you can flip him at the deadline (suppose he is on the DL) for a better pick. Also if he takes a one year deal there may be more options for him.

          And I do not get why you would not want to sign him to a 3 year contract? If you are giving up your pick I would want at least 3 years, you point about losing speed first is true but that is not relevant on a 3 year deal, when he is asking 6-7 years like a few months ago that was different. But he is only 29 – a 3 year deal makes him 32 – he is not losing the speed at 32.

          • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

            Not that I think a one-year deal has much point to it, but we could QO him at the end of the year and either keep him longer or get a pick slightly better than the one we gave up.

      • Jimmy James

        agreed…i think the fact that a team would lose a pick shouldn’t stop them from signing a player if he is worth it. That being said, i don’t think Bourne is worth the years/money he is likely to get and at that point the pick becomes relevant. Maybe a team is willing to give him more cash/years then he is worth but not when they couple that with losing a 1st or 2nd rounder.

  • Marcel91

    Agree. That’s the equivalent to a pierce johnson level prospect. Not sure I want to do that for 3 of Bourns down years

  • cubsin

    Is there any evidence at all that any of the reasonable candidates for the second overall pick would accept less than slot value?

    • nkniacc13

      well the first pick in the draft last year signed for underslot

    • Drew7

      Unless that player happens to be the guy they have rated the highest on their board, it shouldn’t make any difference.

  • the sandman

    Bourn is Juan Pierre waiting to happen. Maybe at 3/30 hed be worth a try but at 5/90 hes v astly overpaid. Pass. Ill save the big $ for a #1 starter or a late 20s Giancarlo Stanton.

  • Marc

    I don’t get what Juan Pierre waiting to happen means. Not only is he a better player than Pierre ever was, with a touch more power (he did hit 9 HRs last year), but Pierre put up a pretty solid season at 34 despite his legs being obligated to fall off at 30.

    Not to mention that in 4 years time you would hope the Cubs have done enough to be able to hide a guy likely to be one of their best players in 2013 and 2014 (possibly even 2015).

    • Kevin B

      Great comment Marc – with Bourn as our leadoff man on a 3 year deal we are arguable a contender this year but for sure it speeds up the time frame and we can contend in 2014 and 2015.

      For 3 years reasonably priced I would do it, otherwise I value the pick more.

  • Voice of reason

    The sad truth is that the cubs are only considering signing Bourne because they have no center fielders in the minors that are ready for the bigs.

    This is also a sign that they have no faith in Jackson what so ever.

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