Kevin C. Cox
What kind of contact will Michael Bourn be seeking as a free agent?
Even before the ticker tape in San Francisco can be cleaned up there comes a rumor about the possible contract demands of Atlanta Braves free agent center fielder Michael Bourn. (Notice how I will use vague qualifier words like "possible" throughout the off-season.) I'm not sure what category of rumor this falls into, but we'll put it into the "word on the street" category. Here is a Phillies beat writer on Bourn:
... word on the streets is that Bourn is looking for a huge payday, possibly as much as $100 million. He hired high-powered agent Scott Boras before the 2011 season to aid in that quest.
Word. We all knew it would be tough to re-sign Bourn for a reasonable amount, considering who his agent is. As Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra points out, Bourn does not quite fit the bill of a player worth a $100 million contract ... or anything close. With Bourn you'd be paying for center field defense and speed on the bases. Other than that, he's not quite the ideal leadoff man you really want your team to commit that kind of money to, what with 155 strikeouts last year, and a career strikeout percentage of over 20%.
As Mark Bowman said yesterday -- when I believe he sort of implied what the Braves will do -- the team is going to make Bourn a qualifying offer of a one-year contract for $13.3 million in order to get the draft pick compensation, assume he signs elsewhere, and move on to plan B or C. That's probably okay. I like Bourn, I liked having him on the team this past year, but I really don't want the Braves to overpay just so they can say they have a "bona fide leadoff man".