michael bourn bravesHaving already signed a free agent tied to draft pick compensation, and having a protected first round pick, the Cleveland Indians were in a unique position to sign someone like Michael Bourn for “less” than most other teams. He would cost them only their third pick in the draft (a competitive balance pick, just before the third round).

And, according to Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal, they’ve taken advantage of that position by agreeing to terms with the free agent center fielder. The deal, according to Heyman, is for four years and $48 million, plus a vesting option that could tack on another year and another $12 million.

It’s a pretty reasonable deal for Bourn, though far less than he was seeking. The draft pick compensation certainly worked against him, but so did his high strikeout totals, and speed-defined skill set.

It was a funny evening with respect to Bourn and the Cubs, with Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal once again attaching the Cubs to Bourn by way of rumors, and the local writers – most notably Carrie Muskat and Gordon Wittenmyer (by way of a tweet directed at me (#humblebrag)) – saying Bourn to the Cubs simply wasn’t going to happen.

Chalk one up for the local writers.

As for the “loss” of Bourn … it just doesn’t feel like a loss. The deal isn’t outrageous, and I wouldn’t have absolutely hated it, but I don’t see a whole lot of certain surplus value there. He was always an odd fit for the Cubs – he wasn’t going to make the difference between a competitive team in 2013 (or 2014, for that matter), he wouldn’t have been a flippable asset at that price point, and he wouldn’t be a cheap what-the-hell-why-not type signing at that price point, either. That money can be better spent elsewhere after the 2013 season.

To the extent there was any overlap in possible landing spots for Alfonso Soriano or David DeJesus, should the Cubs look to make a trade, Bourn going to the Indians is a decent spot. They weren’t likely to be in on either Cubs player, and now, who knows? Maybe the Mets or Rangers become just a touch more interested.

One bummer about the Indians signing Bourn? Because the pick they lose comes after the Cubs’ second round pick, and because the compensatory pick the Braves pick up comes before the Cubs’ second round pick, the Cubs’ second round pick was just knocked down a spot.

  • Ben

    Very reasonable 12 per as well. 5th year vesting at 550 PA may be easy to prevent if performance declines. At this price, I wonder if the Cubs shouldn’t have been more interested.

    • TWC

      Who says they weren’t?

      • Ben

        All the local writers. Said the Cubs were not in on Bourn

        • TWC

          Well, yeah, but Gordon the obtuse & Carrie tweeted that “it wasn’t happening”, not that the Cubs had no interest. I was just curious if it was being proposed that the Cubs not signing a FA = that the Cubs were “not interested”.

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com DB Kyle

          That’s pretty much all the local writers that I don’t care about.

    • Marcel91

      They shouldn’t have. Too many years and losing the pick was a big time deterrent. I don’t blame them. Indians are going for it and it’ll be an upgrade for a year or two but after that they won’t be happy with this deal. But again…you take that risk when your going for it. We are not yet in that position.

  • CubFan Paul

    This is the price that you said the Cubs would be involved in IF it fell this low ($12M)

  • fromthemitten

    excellent this might make the Mets desperate enough to deal for Soriano.

  • Marcel91

    Thank god. Now we can finally end all this ghost speculation and hopes that we should sign him. 4 years(possibly 5) is too long for Bourn. Indians will find out soon enough. Nontheless it makes sense for them sense they seem to be going for it and had a protected pick.

  • DarthHater

    Wow. Didn’t the Indians realize that TONY CAMPANA is available???

    • Spencer

      They wanna get him for free in 9 days :)

  • dw8

    Very reasonable. He could earn his contract strictly on defense the first couple years of this deal.

  • Spencer

    Gordon Wittenmyer also said the Cubs didn’t have enough payroll room to work with, which is a bit confusing for my tiny brain.

    • Marcel91

      That’s simply stupid. Money was the only thing that wasn’t a problem with us signing Bourn. It was everything else.

    • fromthemitten

      they’re saving up money for renovations I bet

      • Spencer

        Interesting point. I don’t think we’ve heard anything about whether they’re being hampered by lack of funds because of that. Of course, payroll is going to be pretty low this year anyway, so it’ll be hard to tell if that’s the case. 2014 will be more telling. But by that time hopefully all the details and the rooftop dispute will be squared away and we won’t have to worry about it.

    • TWC

      Yeah, that was a pretty odd comment by Gordo.

  • Greg

    At this point, shouldn’t the Indians go after Kyle Lohse too?

    • CubFan Paul


    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett


      • CubFan Paul


  • Spencer

    I really don’t care that the Cubs didn’t sign Bourn, and quite honestly they probably shouldn’t have. But I think the he “wasn’t going to make the difference between a competitive team in 2013” argument is a bit attenuated, especially given the free agents the Cubs have signed this off season. I don’t think anyone thinks Feldman, Baker, Hairston, etc. are going to make the difference between the Cubs having a competitive team in 2013, either. It goes back to the old “you have to sign free agents when they’re available” mantra. As I said, I’m pretty ambivalent about the Cubs not getting Bourn, but when the Cubs don’t sign a free agent it doesn’t always make sense to say, “Well they weren’t going to be competitive with him anyway so it doesn’t really make a difference.”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The parenthetical about 2014 makes the point more salient.

      Every signing has either been about a potentially flippable piece, a cheap lightning in a bottle piece, or a 2014 piece. Bourn is arguably none of those things.

      • Spencer

        I agree with that, save *maybe* the 2014 part. Hard to say how he’ll contribute to a team in 2014, and by that point you’ve already burned 24M trying to find out. Like I said, meh.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I amplified that point in the post above. But, yes, meh.

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com DB Kyle

        He’s 2 out of 3.

        • CubFan Paul


    • DarthHater

      The “make a difference” rationale only is relevant to longer and more expensive signings. Feldman, Baker, and Hairston deals are for way less $$$ and years, so I don’t think that logic even come sinto play for them. It would apply to the Edwin Jackson signing, but I think it was wise of the Cubs to move on a FA like Jackson ahead of one like Bourn.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Yes, to all of this.

  • fromthemitten

    I wonder if the interest that was reported was a last ditch effort by Boras to drive up the salary

  • Bea Arthur.

    Wow. Cleveland will be mediocre! Will fans show up to see these guys? Unlikely.
    Sad too because I’d like to see Cleveland win a World Series one day. 1954 right?

    Anyway, don’t let G-Dub Cub (Wittenmeyer) get too excited he wrote that David Bell was the Cubs bench coach yesterday. Oops. He is third base. No correction today. You can even find the article about his hiring on google.

    Brett gets it.

  • Derek

    I thought I read where theu gave up a 3 rd pick for bourn necause the wry already lost there 2nd

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes. They lose their third pick in the draft. First pick is protected, second pick was lost for Swisher.

  • Die hard

    Best investment never made-Cubs have one overpriced fading star. Don’t need another. Would rather they reduce tkt prices one day a week to 1950 prices for kids 15 and under

  • djaws

    I see a lot of fortune-tellers here.

    • fromthemitten

      I have Miss Cleo on my payroll as a source

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        CALL ME NOW!

        • DarthHater

          As soon as you psychically transmit your phone number…

      • Die hard

        Did she predict King Felix would fail his physical before signing mega contract?

  • Diamond Don

    Great non-signing by the Cubs! Why waste money on a slap hitter with no power? We have enough of those type players on our roster already.

  • Believe in 2015

    A non-related Bourn question: where will Logan Watkins start the year? And does he have the potential to be the Cub future second baseman or a utility type player?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Potential to be either of those things, sure. Utility is most likely (as discussed by Jason Parks in the last podcast, actually). He figures to be the regular second baseman at Iowa this year, as things stand.

  • John

    What do you think it’d take to get Brantley and is he worth a look? Only 25, pre-arb, put up 3 WAR with a .350 OBP and I believe his D is well regarded.

  • Timmy

    I think if the Cubs could have gotten a similar deal with Bourn then we majorly messed up. This is what I’d call “exact market value” for the player. Not a huge deal for the team but basically what he’s worth without the burden of a too-long contract.

    • Lou

      Disagree. The more I thought about the Bourn signing, the more I think about Arguello’s column over at CubsDen: http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2013/02/bourn-again-analysis-on-why-the-cf-simply-doesnt-make-sense-for-the-cubs-even-in-the-short-term/

      • Cubz99

        The Cubsden article took many liberties and tried to skew many numbers in order to make the case for not signing Bourn. I like the blog and John but that was not one of his finer articles. If you look at Bourn’s past value, over the last 4 years according to fangraphs he has been worth an avg of over $20MM per year. Now maybe Theo and Jed don’t value players the same way fangraphs does, but to sign basically a $20MM+ player for about half of that, is pretty good value. The big question mark with Bourn is whether or not his number one tool (speed) will start to decline over the next 4 years. If it does he will definitely not be worth the $28MM he was worth in 2012, but that seems like a pretty good gamble to take.

        • Lou

          And yet you’ve identified basically the one thing that makes him a questionable signing–speed, and its potential decline as he gets older. Plus a signing of him would potentially block others like Jackson. And when you look at splits for other outfielders, namely Shierholtz and Hairston, their signings make them much more favorable for the price. I’m not quite sure where you get “taking liberties.”

          • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com DB Kyle

            He cherrypicks really hard.

            Are we using ZIPS or Cairo? Are we using career splits or last year’s? Career UZR or gut feelings on defense?

            • Lou

              I’m confused on this one Kyle. You say he doesn’t use career stats effectively, and yet he seems to be discussing particularly the most valuable year(s) of Bourn’s contract, namely, if I’m to believe him, the first one to two. He’s also discussing this year with relation to WAR, and yet you’re saying he’s cherrypicking and not being consistent career stats. WAR is not something that lends itself to prediction over time. WAR is supposed to be a present measure of value. I think you’re argument for Bourn is career-based. Arguello’s argument is what’s the next impact of WAR as a starting point this year (a year largely where the Cubs don’t expect to be competitive). And going forth from this year, doesn’t it make the signing relevant for Cubs. They seem to be two different arguments. Am I missing something here?

        • Hansman1982

          Offensively, Bourn = DeJesus. Therefore, you have to ask yourself how much is his defense worth?

          • Internet Random

            Offensively, Bourn = DeJesus.

            That doesn’t offend me.

          • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com DB Kyle

            No. At the plate, Bourn equals DeJesus.

            You have to ask yourself, how much is his defense *and baserunning* worth?

            And you have to answer, based on objective analysis, “a lot.”

            • hansman1982

              Using wOBAs plus Fangraphs FLD and BsR (career averages (not sure if BsR captures SB, I’m guessing not but I have SB in wOBAs) (which I’m not a huge fan of these metrics to begin with)) we have a 14 run difference between the two.

              That’s about as objective as it gets.

              He’ll be worth the 2013 and 2014 portions of his contract. It will be interesting to see where it goes from there.

              • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com DB Kyle

                Why are we using career numbers? DeJesus has 1400 more PAs.

                • hansman1982

                  Using career averages on FLD and BsR. That isn’t great but I don’t see how it’s possible a guy can lose nearly 2 wins worth of runs season over season, so I took a lazy path to smoothing that.

                  wOBAs uses 2012 numbers.

                  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com DB Kyle

                    Bourn was nearly worthless the first two years of his career, but he’s got four seasons of high worth after that, so I don’t think using career averages is going to accurately capture his abilities.

                    The case against Bourn has to work very, very hard to try to avoid giving him credit for the past few years, which are generally the most important years for projection purposes.

                    • hansman1982

                      Well, now we are getting away from my initial statement, which was:

                      “Offensively, Bourn = DeJesus”

                      Outside of 6 runs.

                      Defensively, I will grant you that Bourn >>> DeJesus. Depending on how you want to weight it anywhere from 8.5 runs to 15 to 24 runs better. At 4/48M, I would have loved the Cubs to sign him. With the vesting year…ehh.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “The case against Bourn has to work very, very hard to try to avoid giving him credit for the past few years, which are generally the most important years for projection purposes”

                      this is exactly what i’ve seen from anti-bourners all offseason. And its mostly from people who don’t watch enough games to know that he’s the *best* CF in the NL or care to accept his stolen bases into his skillset/offensive production.

                      “Offensively, Bourn = DeJesus. Therefore, you have to ask yourself how much is his defense worth?”

                      Asisinine question, imo, no offense.

                    • hansman1982

                      I mean, I’m not really working to skew the discussion against Bourn. It’s just how much do you think 271 plays in the OF sways the W/L record? According to Fangraphs, every 12 plays he was saving a run above average.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      The guy signed for less than $50M. He started out looking for $100M. Upton took his spot in ATL for the $75M he could of had there. The twins took away 2 of his destinations.

                      Now everyone is still turning their nose up at 4/$48M…wow

                    • hansman1982

                      “this is exactly what i’ve seen from anti-bourners all offseason. And its mostly from people who don’t watch enough games to know that he’s the *best* CF in the NL or care to accept his stolen bases into his skillset/offensive production.”

                      wOBAs is an acronym I created that deisgnates when I am including SB. My original statement was that Bourn isn’t this offensive juggernaut the Pro-Bourners think he is. To put it another way, SB just aren’t that valuable.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      OR maybe wOBA is the wrong stat for this discussion. Speed is Speed. A stolen base is a stolen base. stat nerds talk wOBA.

                      my eyes tell me: Bourn is >>> than DeJesus Offensively.

                    • hansman1982

                      4/$48M I would have loved. The vesting year, meh but I think I would have been very happy had the Cubs signed him to the same contract.


                      1. Theo and Jed are so hell bent on getting something decent for DeJesus that Bourn came to them with this contract and they said no, fearing they couldn’t move DeJesus. If this is the case, shame on Theo.

                      2. Bourn was demanding a slightly larger contract (or a guarranteed 5th year) from the Cubs.

                      3. Bourn didn’t really want to play for the Cubs and wanted a much larger contract.

                      At this contract, I think the Cubs should have done did the deal, if Bourn would have signed here at that amount.

                    • hansman1982

                      well, wOBA is the only stat that looks at everything a player does and quantifies it with how many runs that event will typically produce.

                      I don;t think we disagree as much as we think we do.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    I see what your saying Hans. I’m new to wOBA and some other (pitching) stats. But my eyes man, my eyes!!

                    One of these days we’ll have a meeting of the minds over pitchers and get arrested for disorderly conduct.

        • http://www.hookersorcake.com Hookers or Cake

          I think Jon is just trying to present his side of the argument. Is it skewed a bit? Yeah most sides of arguments are.

          The old school kid in me says. Bourn is a gold glove center fielder who wreaks havoc on the bases. Plus you then have Harriston as a late inning bat. And should someone go down… like a Soriano, the Cubs would be ok.

          As it stands, I’m ok with the platoon experiment. Not giving up a 40 something pick (Pierce Johnson last year) and assuming Jackson gets another spin, but the old school kid in me see’s Bourn tormenting a pitcher while Castro feasts on fastballs. The kid in me see’s hope and a shot at a wild card. But that kids sees a lot of things every year when spring rolls around.

          • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com DB Kyle

            Well, that’s exactly the point. He found the numbers to try to make the point he wnated to make. He didn’t decide on the best approach and then see where the numbers took him.

  • T Larson

    From one Timmy to another, I couldn’t disagree with you more. Cleveland will regret this signing

    • Alex

      Only if they don’t sign Lohse.

  • Featherstone

    Guess we are keeping our 2nd round pick this year. I’m ok with that

  • Patrick

    Yay!! No more Bourn to cubs talks!!

  • Marc N.

    That’s a good deal. Resembles Juan Pierre’s 4/44 with the Doyers, but Bourn is the better player. Little bit more power and better defense.

  • Rizzofanclub

    I am thinking a Bauer for Garza trade is making a lot of sense for both teams.

  • JR

    I am glad the Cubs didn’t sign Bourn. But man did the compensation thing screw him over. I really hope baseball re-visits the compensation rules before next year. I would sure hate the Cubs to lose their first round pick to sign players. Especially if they were picking between 10-20 in the first round…

  • Die hard

    Wonder if Castro contract guarantees highest paid total which if true limits free agents?

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com DB Kyle

    That’s fine. I wouldn’t have minded for the Cubs to be in on that, but it doesn’t exactly go into my file of Theohate points to be brought up at later date.

    I’m a little disappointed they didn’t go for a longer-term solution in the outfield, there were plenty available. But the Platoons! plan is a reasonable one, it’s not like they just threw the job at whoever they could find laying around at Iowa.

  • Tim

    Mark prior is about to be on the MLBN. Lets hear what he has to say!

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com DB Kyle

    “he wasn’t going to make the difference between a competitive team in 2013 (or 2014, for that matter)”

    Don’t be that guy, Brett. Come on, please don’t be that guy. You’re better than that :)

    • CubFan Paul

      “he wouldn’t have been a flippable asset at that price point”

      The Red Sawx and Marlins flipped bigger contracts/players for top prospects while barely adding any money.

      (coincidentally neither team can sign notable free agents without overpaying this offseason)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Read the whole sentence and paragraph in context. That’s the guy I am.

      You know I supported, for example, the Edwin Jackson signing, and that didn’t put the Cubs over any tops in 2013. But I really, really like him for 2014. I didn’t feel that strongly about Bourn.

  • macpete22

    Glad he’s not a Cub.