# 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 said a few weeks back that now is the time to sit back and wait on the market. Let Bourn’s market shrink. In the end we will get him on a 3 year deal. As it stands now his real market is the Cubs and the Mariners. These things will sort themselves out. Jim Bowden is saying the same thing. It’s too bad for these guys that the CBA is screwing them in their prime years to earn the most \$\$ but hey that’s life. I say Theo keeps Bourn’s agent on speed dial and that Agent knows he is supposed to call Theo if anything get’s close on Bourn and the Mariners. Then it will be a short turn around on a deal getting done. I don’t think we are going to have to give up 4 or 5 years to land this guy. If Bourn can be landed for 3 yrs at \$40M or even \$45M and 3 yrs Theo signs him. Then you are only buying his true prime years. If he has anything left in his tank after that he can go sign another deal. Also if our guys are ready sooner than later we can still trade Bourn in a heartbeat in year 2 or 3. Then what did we really pay for his services? Nowhere near what is contract is worth. I look at like the guy won’t be here but 3 years max. So even if you have to sign him for longer you are trading him way before you pay him that money in the latter years.

2. I have mixed emotions on this whole Bourne thing. I wouldn’t go 5 years under any circumstance but 4 at \$15M per I’d do, I think this age thing is really overblown on this board. Seeing that he turned 30 last week on a 4 year deal he’ll be 33 years when it’s finished. Hardly the 38 or 39 (or whatever his real age is) we took on when Soriano went for 8 years. Bourne’s last season was kind of interesting in that he set career highs in homers and walks and added his 2nd most triples, not the stats usually associated with a player on the decline.

3. The part of Campana ran down his moms leg!.. Campana Mite want to learn From Bourn!

1. R16, If you want to course and gross why don’t you write on a porn site.

4. To jump back in a little late. Core young postion players are extremly important for more then one year of being good. If Bourn was 26 he would be coming into his prime. 4 to 5 year contract would be outstanding for him. At 30 you have two years of Bourn at his prime before the numbers will decline. It just dosn’t make sense in investing money into a 30 old for more then a year or two. Sure Soraino is 36 and put up good numbers last year. What did he do the year before that. It really wasn’t that good. Why are teams not knocking down the Cubs door for Soraino if all they Cubs will eat most of the contract. Teams don’t want a 36 year old outfielder that is declining. To ansewer the other question Barney is not a core young postion player. Barney dosn’t hit enough to be considered. Build around Castro and Rizzo. Trade for young players and the Cubs long term will be much better for that.

1. The question of Barney being considered “core” v. “non-core” comes down to his age much more than his bat, I’d guess. Defense and baserunning provide value, the former of which Barney provides a lot of.

1. Those criteria should pretty much remove Barney as a “core” guy. He’s not young: he’s 27, which is practically middle aged in baseball. He runs the bases pretty well, but nowhere near well enough to make up for how infrequently he gets on base. (Nobody does!) Combine this with no power, and you are talking about a guy who is the utility infielder on good teams.

5. Is “core player” a technical term? What the hell does it mean?

1. That’s a guy you want to “build around.”

That, of course, begs the question: “is ‘build around’ a technical term? What that hell does it mean?” Insofar as I can tell, it means a guy that you don’t have to replace to make your team good in X years! But it’s another term used by people without anybody really about what they are saying/writing.

6. Most teams that are in year in and year out have players that been with them for more then a couple of years. Yankees have the same basic five and then they have other players they bring in here and there. Thats what I mean by core players. Players that are coming into there prime that are already producing good numbers. For long term a team needs players like that. Thats your core players.

7. Correct Barney has value for his glove and baserunning. His bat holds him back. If the Cubs had 4 young bats in the lineup that produce then Barney is great to have for those reasons. Problem is the Cubs really have Rizzo and Castro. The Cubs outfield is made up of back up starters for most teams. Soraino is ageing and what else do the Cubs have. The Cubs starting third basemen has a bad wrist and has problems striking out. Dosn’t look all that great for next year dose it. Thats why we need to wait things out a little. Develope from with in.

8. “f the Cubs had 4 young bats in the lineup that produce then Barney is great to have for those reasons.”

Actually, even then it still would be better to replace Barney with a high OPS secondbaseman who has less range. Remember, with rare exception, Barney cannot catch balls for the other fielders: he simply creates more good outs than the typical secondbaseman. Any team replacing him with a Cano or a Pedroia (or probably even a Kipnis) is going to improve their run-differential by adding more runs-scored than they do runs-allowed: and that means more victories.

9. Doc I’m not going to get nasty back. It just a opion. I don’t want to offend anybody by any means. If you don’t think I know what talking about fine. Let’s just not get nasty.

1. Wow. If you think what Doc wrote was “nasty”, you must be awfully new to the internet, kid.

1. Yeah, I didn’t even mention his mother’s tendency to confuse military footwear with high fashion pumps…..

1. Man, this place has become just like cubs.com with all the bashing and insults flying about! ###

2. I think he meant “nasty” in the Janet-Jackson sense of the word.

1. Ick.

2. Nothing about my statement is nasty. It’s just a simple aspect of baseball or any other sport: if a team can win despite Player A, then we can expect that team to do even better if it replaces Player A with a plus guy. Relative to the average starting second baseman, Barney is going to cost you runs over a season: for every one he saves with his glove relative to the average starter, he costs more than one with his bat. That will be true if he has 7 All-Stars playing with him or 7 AAAA guys playing with him.

10. Sorry doc. What you wrote wasn’t nasty .I miss read something . I’m on pain killers from a accident at work. I guess I’m getting a little loopy. What you wrote makes a lot of sense. Again deeply sorry.

1. heh, no worries: I’ve been there before! (“There is no pain, you are receding…..”)

And your mum looks great in those boots, btw.

1. A distant ships smoke on the horizon? Haha Pink Floyd’s the shit

11. 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. The Fish aren’t going to let Stanton go cheap… they try to fleece everybody when dealing. And we should probably wait a year to trade Baez… to soon to guage his value. Don’t think Vizcaino will be going anywhere either after just acquiring him.

1. I would definitely do that deal although I believe that it is unrealistic. A core of Stanton, Castro, and Rizzo would be great to build around.

12. Theo just stated yesterday that with the new CBA draft picks are too valuable to just give up when signing a FA that’s turned down a QO. Since the Cubs would be giving up a #40-ish pick next year, they’d not only lose out on a highly ranked player but would also lose the slot money that goes along with it. In a draft class that’s not supposed to be all that deep I’d think that the Cubs are going to pass on Bourn and keep that 2nd round pick.

Anybody care to think what Lohse will get after he turned down \$13M from the Cards and hasn’t even received an offer yet? My guess is he winds up taking that money from SL because nobody is giving up a 1st round pick PLUS \$15M/yr. to an inconsistent pitcher in his middle 30s.

13. Sorry, but I have to disagree. If that’s the package, its pretty much a no brainer. Sure I would prefer not to give up Baez, but you’re basically trading prospects and question marks for a sure thing. That deal and adding a leadoff hitter, would not damage the Cubs future and would offer almost an instantly competitive team. I tend to agree Stanton probably isn’t going to rape an organization but will be costly though.

I still think the Marlins would ask for Castro for a variety of reasons, Jackson, Szcur and Maples. They can ask for anything the question is really what they would settle for.

I think sometimes we grossly overvalue prospects. Vizcaino is the perfect example. Atlanta no stranger to quality pitching was willing to let him go. Understandably the elbow played into it, but if was the untouchable many think, now way Atlanta lets him go for Malhom, they are stupid. In the end if you want a hitter the stature and age profile of Stanton you have to give something up, oh I would say a lot of somethings….

14. Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN
J.P. Howell agreed to terms with the Dodgers. A left-hander for a very deep bullpen.

1. deal is apparently arund 1 year 3 milion. Interesting if true

15. Cubs sign Dontrelle Willis to a minor league deal.

17. I still prefer the Clement patch over Willis.

18. When he was good, he was very very good, and when he was bad, he was horrid.

19. Wow, what do they know that we don’t? This is interesting.

20. He’s baaaaaacccckkkkk!!!

1. Ugh, thought I got rid of all of these.

21. I LOVE this! Imagine Dontrelle as a left handed set up man!

1. Trying not to. You realize he hasn’t been good in a decade right?

1. To be fair, he wrote that comment in 2004.

2. Also it is rather interesting looking at his career no team has used him in the pen. Probably won’t change much but hey there’s no harm in imagining him succeeding.

22. I don’t want the Cubs to sign Bourn. I don’t think he’s worth the money it would take to get him.

23. If a team has unbalanced pitching, that is to say a few great rotation guys and a few good in the bp followed by several rotation/bp throwers who are not so good, then a good defense can stretch the IP’d by those that are the better. There are simply fewer pitches per out. On such a team, a glove like Barney can save more runs than just the resultant of the extra outs he provides. The extra outs from the extended IP’d by the better quality pichers must also be considered.
This may not be an important consideration on a team with balanced pitching or a power house offense.
not all paths walk a straight line.

24. What’s Bourn worth? Whatever somebody is willing to pay.

25. It’s my birthday and I hope Epstein and Company still acquire pieces that will make the Cubs attractive to keep attracting other players to come the Cubs. We are never sure if the FO has it figured out right, but I think this team is doing lots of great things. Our team is probably just below 500 with no changes at the trade deadline. Pick up a couple of players so that by June we are buyers vs sellers and we might be able to get 95 wins enough to be in the playoffs. I am and I said it, please Theo we are not so far away, your loyal fan for over 50 years.

26. It’s my birthday and I hope Epstein and Company still acquire pieces that will make the Cubs attractive to keep attracting other players to come the Cubs. We are never sure if the FO has it figured out right, but I think this team is doing lots of great things. Our team is probably just below 500 with no changes at the trade deadline. Pick up a couple of players so that by June we are buyers vs sellers and we might be able to get 95 wins enough to be in the playoffs. I am and I said it, pleased. Theo we are not so far away, your loyal fan for over 50 years.

27. Brett I’m not sure Bourn fits here, and we agree far more than we ever disagree. Clearly Almora was a big investment and he’s probably on a faster track than most think, no later than late 2014 to come up to stay. So I don’t really understand the value of signing Bourn, as I just don’t see him doing a 1 year deal. Someone will give him at least a couple if not 3-5.

Further, unless they are going to deal Jackson, again Bourn would be capping a position for a young player. Now, if indeed, they had decided there was enough in the Minors and with the 2013 pick that could make an attempt to really be competitive, I could see adding Bourn to fill out a year or two and nail down the lead off spot for 2 or 3 years. Thats kind of the value I see with him, but again, not based on delaying real competing as of this moment it still seems they are.

I think where they are, a guy like Grady Sizemore, if he has any chance of being whole would make more sense. But I think we have to see what occurs with Soriano, Marmol and then if they make any attempt to trade for some hitting.

1. I doubt Almora is ready by 2014, maybe Baez, but not Almora. Maybe you meant Soler. Almora is further out. Also, Bourn, if signed, wouldn’t be blocking any prospect. If Jackson ever figures it out, he would come up and hold a corner spot or 4th outfielder. I doubt Brett Jackson is ever as good as a Michael Bourn down year, better yet, the current Michael. As of right now, we have 2 starting outfielders. If we sign Bourn, keep Sori as I hope and Dejesus, then Jackson can be trade bait, if he figures it out, that can help us get a 3B or a pitcher at the deadline if we are competative. Bourn is not something we consider, he is a must as long as he is willing to come here.

28. Should the Cubs put a claim on Chris Dickerson ?

29. No I meant Almora. He was the young outfielder rumored analyzed take your choice to make the adjustment most quickly for a HS player in this draft. It would mean he has to move through Cane County this season and probably be successful in Daytona. He has to prove he can graduate from A ball, but I don’t think that is possible and if he can tear up AA in 2014, I don’t expect them to hold him back and in fact would see them bringing him up in Sept. They won’t hold him back, they’ll let him fly as quickly as they can.

Now as to Soler, he’s a corner outfielder, but I agree with you he could be a fast track. Once he gets completely acclimated the light will go off quickly with him, he could be even faster. Baez is a tremendous talent, but he has to prove now he can succeed in Daytona and then AA this season. He will also have to improve on his contact skills and prove his position. Any of the 3 could rocket similar to Castro, but I think Almora and Soler are on a faster track than people think.

1. Agreed on this. Almora was the polished and experienced for 18 HS kid and Soler has been in pro and international competition for Cuba. Both have the ability to move fast if things go well. I would not be stunned if either beat Baez to the Majors. Almora seems much more mentally prepped for the pros than Baez as far as makeup goes, and I’m interested to see how that translates.