# Calculating the Maximum Contract the Cubs Should Offer Michael Bourn

Last night, Theo Epstein hopped on the radio in Boston and discussed, among other things, the difficult decision teams face when pursuing free agents who’ve received a qualifying offer, and thus present the loss of a draft pick in order to sign.

We discussed that issue a bit in the morning yesterday, and adding to that discussion about the unintended effect the changes to draft pick compensation and draft bonus pools are having on free agents who received a qualifying offer, FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron looks at the value of certain draft picks, and pairs that value with the expected value a certain free agent might provided, leaving him with a reasonable contract offer. The exercise proves to be a little painful for someone like Kyle Lohse, who looks to be “worth” only about two years and \$20 million or three years and \$24 million once the draft pick is factored in. He can’t be very happy.

I thought it might be interesting to perform the same exercise for Michael Bourn – using the back of a napkin – and the number 40/41/42 pick, approximately where the Cubs’ second round pick in 2013 will fall, which would be lost if the Cubs signed Bourn.

First, let’s calculate the value of the second round pick. That pick is projected to be worth about 3.5 WAR according to the FanGraphs piece, which gives it a value of about \$19.25 million (using a win value of \$5.5 million).

Next, let’s calculate Bourn’s projected value over the next four or five years. Bourn is projected to be worth about 4.2 to 4.3 WAR in 2013, but he’s coming off a career year (6.4), so we’ll give him a slight bump to 4.5 in 2013. From there, players tend to decline about 0.5 WAR per year once they’ve entered their decline phase (this is a really rough gauge, folks), so we can project that he’s worth 4.5 wins in 2013, 4 wins in 2014, 3.5 wins in 2015, 3.0 wins in 2016, and 2.5 wins in 2017.

Again, using that \$5.5 million per win figure, that makes Bourn worth \$24.75 million in 2013, \$22 million in 2014, \$19.25 million in 2015, \$16.5 million in 2016, and \$13.75 million in 2017. That totals \$96.25 million over five years (and you start to see why Bourn reportedly sought a five year, \$100 million contract at the start of the Winter). That’s probably on the generous end of the spectrum, but it’s what we have.

So, how does the value of the lost pick impact what Bourn could expect to receive from a team like the Cubs?

If Bourn is worth \$96.25 million on a five-year deal (or \$82.5 million on a four-year deal), that means he should expect a contract from a team giving up the number 40/41/42 draft pick (“worth” \$19.25 million) no higher than five years and \$77 million or four years and \$63.25 million.

This exercise makes me feel pretty good about my from-the-hip cap on what I’d like to see the Cubs offer (if they’re going to make an offer at all, something about which I’m relatively ambivalent). I said I’d want the Cubs to go no higher than four years and \$50 to \$60 million, and now I’ll stand by that. I wouldn’t want the Cubs to sign Bourn unless they were getting some surplus value on paper, and a four-year deal in that range would do it.

And they might be able to pull it off – remember, the Cubs’ lost pick (number 40/41/42) is worth a whole lot less than a pick in the first round, which, for a team with an unprotected first round pick, thus “subtracts” a more sizable chunk from the theoretical contract that team should be willing to offer Bourn.

This is all theoretical. Teams have a great many factors to consider when piecing together a roster. It isn’t all just dollars, or worse, flimsy projections of value.

Included in those factors? Would a team like the Cubs even want Bourn to begin with? Should they?

#### Brett

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

### 248 responses to “Calculating the Maximum Contract the Cubs Should Offer Michael Bourn”

1. I was wondering if anyone has a good Bears blog like this to read? I love reading stuff on here and been wanting to find something for the Bears. Any ideas? Thanks.

1. Brett, are you looking to expand? jk

2. I use nfltraderumors.co as the latest news but nothing specifically on the Bears. With the offseason starting and a lot of changes for the Bears, I sure wish there was a site like this for that sort of information.

1. A guy for Cubs Den started a Bears blog.

http://www.chicagonow.com/loxas-factor

3. windycitygridiron.com is a solid blog

2. I have a feeling we will here the Cubs are close to signing someone tonight or tommorow. I just have a gut feeling.

1. Or it might be a trade

3. Would the cubs give a one year deal to Kyle L.? We could flip him at the dead line (in which we would get a pretty good prospect) and at the end of the year he won’t get a qualifying offer?

1. I doubt they would do that. The prospect would have to be better than a 2nd round pick, and there is risk if Lohse is injured or performing poorly. The upside just isn’t there.

4. This calculation makes sense only if it is assume that Bourn is on the decline. I dont think he is. I think the Cubs will be stupid not to sign or attemp to sign him at anything less then 5/80. 5/90 only if jeeded to outbid another team. We are talking bout one of the top 3 CF in baseball.

1. He’s already at 30 for a speed guy-he’s reached his decline put the pipe down!!

5. I want a Justin Upton trade. I would be willing to give up Lake, Garza, Marmol (of course lol) and some other good prospects except Baez, but that’s what it might take to get him… Make it happen Jed and Theo…

1. Without Baez (given that Soler and Almora are not tradeable), I doubt a deal would get done. It would probably have to include Castro, and I don’t know that I would do that deal. Stanton maybe, Upton probably not.

1. Yeah I know that’s what sucks. I want Barz and Upton, but I want Baez more so no to that. But if we can get Upton not involving Baez or Castro, I’ll take it. I would really love to have Upton on the Cubs, he would love Wrigley/Waveland too…

1. The only other option would be to deal the Shark. But, given our dearth of young pitching, I’m not sure I would do that. Maybe Shark + 2 or 3 of our better prospects would get us close, but even then AZ might not be interested. Shark does have 3 years of control, and at reasonable costs (maybe 15-20 for the whole 3 years).

1. Yeah that probably would work if we took a player off their hands that they don’t really want…

2. why would you give up ll that for upton? you subtract garza from that then ok

3. Not gonna happen.

6. he strikes out a ton an isnt great aganst lhp…….no way 5/80

1. bourn.

7. They’re not going to give up the 2nd round draft pick for anyone.

8. That all sounds about right.

I’d like to note, though, my ongoing nitpick that WAR/\$ is not ilnear. You should pay very little per win for low-WAR players and a ton per win for high-WAR players. If you paid \$19 million for a guy who gave you 3.5 career WAR, you got screwed.

1. Didn’t think about this, but that’s a true statement. Another reason to pursue Bourn this year. If Ellsbury and Cano don’t hit FA (I’m guessing neither makes it), there isn’t really a decent position player left, and the prices will be high given the lack of talent available. Sign Bourn this year, then add another SP in the offseason.

9. I am not sure I agree with your comment that the Braves should be willing to pay more. If they sign him they are giving up the value of the free draft pick compensation they would receive if Bourn signs elsewhere. Thus, shouldn’t the value calculation be the same for the Braves as it is for any other team?

10. id rather give up a bigger deal to col. for cargo than to ari. for upton…imo

1. Cargo is 2 years older, and partly a product of his home field. A good player for sure, but not someone I would give up a ton to get. Upton has untapped potential, and age on his side. Plus Cargo’s contract isn’t as team friendly as Upton’s. Upton is a FA earlier, but there isn’t much of a discount at the end of Cargo’s deal (16,17,20 million for 2015-2017).

1. 2yrs isnt much at that age anyway…upton has been built up to a superstar by the media as was his brother who just got the braves largest contract in history,id rather pay for performance than potential,ad cargo has been better..not just at col. either but everyone has their opinion, i wouldnt give a ton for either but would give up more for cargo…

1. Cargo’s road OPS last two seasons: .757 (2011 in 218 AB), .706 (2012 in 252 AB)

Using just those numbers isn’t entirely fair, and he’s still a very good player. But that doesn’t scream superstar to me. I’m not saying Upton is one, but I think he has a greater chance of becoming one.

11. I think what Bourn could bring to the Cubs, over and above what we have in house is a good lead off man. I’m not sure his other contributions would be that much better than our current options. At best we need him for a couple years an BJax, Lake, etc could still surprise us. I say keep the pick.

12. the best contract for Bourn is no contract. I firmly believe you gain more value by stockpiling as much minor league talent as possible. Tesms like Toronto, Washinton, Texas etc have shown what having an immensely deep farm can do for your ML ballclub whether you keep the players or not. Our 2 rounder is the equivalent to a 1st rd supplemental in past years. I say keep the pick and try to improve in other areas.

1. Marcel91, do you know what else those teams you mention have shown? That when the right guy is available you get him. No matter if it is trade, FA or posting fees. I agree that all those clubs have a ton of prospects because they spent a lot of money on the draft and international amateur FA. You can not do that anymore. The question should not start with the value of a 2nd round pick but is this the right guy to help us moving forward. I am still undecided on that aspect of this deal. I use to be a huge Chon Figgens fan so I am a little gun shy on speed guys that age badly.

2. When Washington signed werth how was that any different than the cubs signing bourn? Or Texas getting beltre? Big market teams can afford proven talent to go along with building through the draft. The draft is still a crap shoot after the first dozen or so picks so you have to value a proven commodity in bourn a lot higher than a fortieth pick

1. Their rosters were Ready. Sure the Nationals were garbage and the Rangers were not yet a model organization, but Core and Foundation were there.

1. Long time reader, first time poster, love the site Brett!

I agree. To me the signing of Bourn is one you make when you are looking for that final piece to add to roster that is ready to contend. I know we are all excited about the moves and possibilities of speeding up the time frame to contention, but lets not forget it is 2014 where we are looking to turn the corner (I personally think .500 or close to it that year would be great). So that takes us to 2015…and if the Cubs are ready to win then I can’t imagine an aging speed guy as a key contributor.

However, if we are saying to acquire him for the sole purpose of acquiring as many assets as possible, and that in fact money is not at all an option (ie: this wont prevent the Cubs from making a move next year if its the right one, not them saying something like…if only we didn’t still owe 40+ mil to Bourn we’d make move x) then that is a different story.

Personally I would like to see them stay the course see what we have in house and make adjustments next off-season not this one.

13. Maybe someone can point out Theo Epstein 2nd round picks throughout the years and give the average war value for those signings ? then compare it to Bourn i think that would be fair. or does it silence the anti bourn signing.

1. I don’t think you can really compare old CBA drafts to current CBA drafts. They are totally different animals.

1. As of right now that’s all we have to go off of and it stands to reason MOST of the talent is still going to go in the same places they were before…if anything early picks may get better over late round picks because that is where the money is.

If I remember right, Sickels did a run-down of spending from last year’s draft and overall it was the same \$ amount but more top-heavy. It stands to reason the 40th overall pick will remain roughly as valuable as before (maybe slightly better) but we are also seeing some contract inflation with major leaguers.

To cRAaZYHORSE:
I bet if you brought this up to Theo he could tell you everything you wanted to know about how much to offer Bourn to get positive value out of his signing in relation to the anticipated draft slot. He would offer up enough information to make any fans head spin.

“…but a Marmol & Baez could probably get it done, OR Baez + 2 could possibly work…”

followed by:

“I don’t think I make the Baez marmol deal for stanton. Marmol when on is pretty good and closers are semi difficult to find even though we might have an extra. And baez is probably moving to 3rd another very hard position to fill. Outfielders tend to be a lot easier to fill in FA than 3rd and closer.”

15. Really really on board with a Bourn signing. Getting a player of his caliber for one prospect is a huge deal, and even if we overpay relative to market we can afford it! This isn’t a seven year deal for a 32-yo; it’s a five year deal for a 30-yo who isn’t prominent enough to be signing an albatross contract (soriano comparison). It won’t make us definite contenders, but it makes us a decent team (and with good seasons from Stewart and Castillo a pretty good one without any more moves!) and you’ve got to be a decent team before you’re a good one.

16. Welll I guess there are two people signing in as James. Not on board with signing Bourne. A ageing centerfielder that will be on his down years dosn’t sound like a good investment. Stay the course and have another year of guys with one or two year contracts that they can flip. You want the Cubs to do the right thing like Tampa Bay develope a core of young players.

17. FORGET Bourn & Upton, I think the Cubs need to get Olt from texas, The 3rd base position needs more attention then the outfield, just in case Stewart doesnt get the production done, Vitters needs more time in the minors, If He makes it back to majors at all, He still has alot to prove

1. Yeah…The OF needs way more attention then 3rd base. Our OF right now as is, is below average. Valbuena/Stewart/Vitters will be a serviceable platoon until a better prospect or player steps up and takes it whether it’s Baez, Vitters, Villanueva etc. or acquiring another player through trade. CF and a power hitting OF should be the priority over 3B atm. Not saying that 3B doesn’t need to be upgraded but that it’s the lowest priority for me at this point.

18. 2003
2nd round
Abraham Alvarez and Michael R Hall hmmm nothing on fangraph (zero war x 2)

2004
Dustin L. Pedroia awesome ! 30.1 war

2005
Jonathan M Egan zero war

2006
Justin D Masterson 12.6 war nice

2007
Jeffrey H Morris zero war

2008
Derrik C Gibson zero war

2009
Alex Wilson should be ML ready in 2013

2010
Brandon Workman top 15 prospect

If the Cubs had top give up its first round draft choice under Epstein the answer is no. and it a no anyway the Cubs first round draft choice is protected.
The Cubs give up it 2nd round draft choice the answer is a yes.

19. The Cubs don’t need Bourn. The Cubs only need a guy like Bourn when they have a core of 4 or 5 good young position players. Bourn dosn’t make the Cubs any better he is a filler type player for a good team. Right now the Cubs have two young core hitter on the team. Rizzo and Castro are nice pieces to build around. I agree the next step should be trying to find a young third baseman. I think the Cubs should try for Mike Olt also. The Cubs might have to give up the Shark, and they should do that. The Cubs couldn’t get Olt for Garza. Garza coming off a injury and is a free agent after the season.

1. BRB, I am going to grab a Bourn off my CFer’s tree in the backyard.

2. The Cubs may already have a core of 4 good young position players. Certainly Rizzo and Castro would be your top pieces, but Barney is a nice player (a core player doesn’t have to be an all-star). Castillo might be your 4th one. He looked pretty good the final couple months but obviously we need to see more. Why do you need a core of 4-5 young players? Soriano is still putting up good numbers, so does it really matter for next year that he’s 36 vs 26 years old? If he puts up solid numbers the next couple seasons (which he’s perfectly capable of doing), who cares if he’s not young? In a couple of years you could have a Baez or Soler replace his spot in the lineup.

If Bourn can help the Cubs win this season and for the next couple then the Cubs should sign him if the price is reasonable. Even if his bat declines he’ll still be a good outfielder. Also, didn’t someone post stats the other day showing that speed guys don’t decline as rapidly as othe guys (granted it wasn’t much of a difference), but they certainly don’t have to fall off a cliff production wise.

1. You can add Brett Jackson to the top pieces if they can real him in.

20. I think in most of the conversations surounding Bourne, his defense has been significantly under discussed. Yes he is a “speed” player and will most likely lose a step or two in the next few seasons. However, IMO his defensive instincts (which should only improve, if even slightly) and playing half his games in a smallish OF should more than offset that lost step. Adding a gold glove caliber player at one of your most important defensive positions, should carry quite a bit of wieght.

1. Not to mention how much it should help the pitching. This is where a MB signing would shine.
Games are won with pitching and D.

1. Before the deluge, most would agree games are won by scoring more than the opponent.

1. Ya you have to score than your opponent to win.
If you can stop your opponent from scoring you have a better chance.

21. LOL lets be clear the only person the Cubs are paying for Past Performance is Theo- and he lost a 101 games last year. The Redsox in one swoosh unloaded over 250 millions dollars worth of bad contracts that Theo signed.

1. ^^^^^ High 5 on that comment.

1. ^^^^^Low 5 on that comment.

1. ^^^^^woop, too slow.

2. I’d be happy with 2 world series

22. If what we have been to led to believe about Theo and Jed is true (that they are always looking for the best possible competitive advantage), this is a no brainer. There is no possible way for them to be able to rapidly infuse talent into this team than by aquiring free agents with draft pick compensation tied to them. The Cubs and boston are the only two teams with protected picks that actually have the financial flexibility to make this work. There is no way that Bourn, Soriano or Lohse would not be more valuable at the trade deadline than the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks that it would take to sign them.

The market has crashed for Lohse and Soriano. They will both be able to be had on one year deals if the signing team agrees not to offer a qualifing contract. I don’t care what anyone says about draft picks or stockpiling the farm system, the goal is to get as much talent into the organization as fast as possible. Sign Bourn for the long term, Soriano and Lohse as flipable assets, get serious about finding an impact bat through trade, and the light is at the end of the tunnel.

23. ARE U SERIOUS!!! HELL NOOO
HOW DARE YOU . Giving M.Bourn (a 30 old dude) a 4-5 years. Bourn would block almora, soler and others. i saw this comment on twitter and its really true: at 30′s speed goes down , and thats his biggest asset. i wont sacrifice my 2nd round pick on that player , Im sorry. you but (2nd round) can still find something valuable. Remember Chone Figgins ?

1. Michael Bourn wouldn’t block anyone. There would still be two open spots in RF and LF and Bourn can act as a mentor to Almora until he’s ready to take over in CF.

Not signing Bourn because you have to give up a second round pick is border line idiotic. A quality MLB player is worth giving up a second round pick for any day of the week.

2. another thing i just want to add: Scott Boras said last week he wont go below 3 years for Bourn. He wants multiple years . Not Theo and Hoyer rebuilding plan. keep building the farm, we are not contenders yet to make splashes on FA

1. Boras is blowing hot air. He’ll go at whatever the market dictates for Bourn. If no one will offer him more than 2 years, he’ll sign for 2 years. He’s going to take whatever offer gets him the most money (whether that be a 1, 2,3+ year deal). BTW, I’m pretty sure Bourn will get a 3 year deal, maybe a 4 year deal, but I’m not so sure he’ll get a 5 year deal

He’s easily worth a 2nd round pick, the question is at what dollar value is he worth it. He’s not blocking anyone and he won’t in 2014.

As the poster above said, I’d be ecstatic if they signed Bourn and then signed Lohse and Soriano to one year deals.

What kind of comp pick would it cost the Cubs to sign Lohse and Soriano if they first signed Bourn? I know Bourn would cost them a 2nd round pick but what would the other guys cost them?

24. I really want to see this Dom Brown trade.

25. Carlos, do you remeber Jon Egan?

What was Kenny Lofton’s WAR in his age 35 season?

The Figgins vs Bourn comparison is poor one, because Figgins was never an elite defender anywhere, Bourn is at a premium defensive position.

Just a piece of advice never worry about blocking someone who has not had a full season in a full season league. It is not worth the time it takes to type. If they end up being as good as we hope, no one will block them.

26. I’m not sure if anyone has already mentioned this, but there was an interesting article about Giancarlo Stanton on MLB Prospect Watch. They sorted out the viable options for Stanton. The Cubs were listed under the “So You’re telling me there’s a chance portion.” It concluded that in order to land Stanton the Cubs would have to build a package of Javier Baez, Josh Vitters, Matt Szczur or Brett Jackson and a pitching prospect, most likely Aroldis Vizcaino. This package seems a little light to me, but I found the article quite interesting.

1. If the Cubs could get Stanton for anything close to that package, Theo should be fired if he didn’t make the trade.

27. My sentiments exactly. This package is almost laughable to me and I suspect the Marlins as well.

28. For a 4-5 year contract for \$70-100 million, loss of 2nd round draft pick and allocated \$ for the pick its way too steep for a mediocre hitter that Ks alot. I know that he’s a good defender that steals bases, but for a noncontending team this move makes no sense.
Our in house staff of Sappelt and Campana can hold the fort for 2013 and during this season we can trade for a good CF or let our minors develop one by 2014.

29. The Cubs spent 10 million dollars on 2 players that have high question marks, and for a return to happen a trade need to be completed by the trade deadline . So what does that tell me :those pitcher have even a smaller window to excel. Pitcher with shoulder and arm problems can be a good investment but they can also bring nothing in return. And let talk about that return / Lets say those two pitchers – what would the return be ? a low level prospect that could be a 4 or 5 outfielder )(dont we sign those type of players for 2.0 million anyway ). OR Any fringe pitcher .

Just very odd . one can always tell a Theo Epstein fan cause he can never do no wrong .and his 101 loss season is not reflection – funny those same people that disagree will also say he made by himself the Redsox a world Champion .

1. “The Cubs spent 10 million dollars on 2 players that have high question marks, and for a return to happen a trade need to be completed by the trade deadline .”

Would it? Could they extend or resign either one, or both? Would they HAVE to be traded to yield return?

“Just very odd . one can always tell a Theo Epstein fan cause he can never do no wrong .and his 101 loss season is not reflection – funny those same people that disagree will also say he made by himself the Redsox a world Champion.”

Do we have to incessantly bucket each transaction analysis as to whether one is a fan, or not, of Theo and the FO? Regardless as to the basis of each one’s view, you are demonstrating what you are condemning – that fans of Theo always say yay, and those who are not always say nay…to everything. Give people some credit that they can hate the transaction and still be positive on the FO, and vice versa. Tired of this stereotypical crap.

30. Would everyone stop talking about campana like hes actually a viable option. He blows. Guys cant even be a 5th of

1. because he’s scrappy and cubs fans sometimes have an odd fixation on scrappy players, regardless of whether or not they’re actually good

1. sometimes it is the small things: when things are going bad “scrappy” seems fun while “crappy” doesn’t.

2. He’s a perfectly viable fifth outfielder.