As the calendar changes from 2012 to 2013, there remains one premier free agent left in Major League Baseball, and that is outfielder Michael Bourn. I am sure the former Atlanta Brave did not picture his first free-agency experience going the way it has.
With the Braves seemingly moving on with the addition of B.J. Upton and a number of other teams making moves to fill their hole at center field, options have become limited. It has actually been pretty shocking to see how quiet the rumors have been around Bourn.
About a week ago, Jim Bowden of ESPN tweeted that Michael Bourn's market consists of Cleveland, Seattle, Miami, Philadelphia, Texas and the New York Mets. Since that tweet, Cleveland signed Nick Swisher, which pretty much eliminates them from this conversation.
The following slides will show the odds as I see them for each team to sign Michael Bourn.
Mike Redmond and the Miami Marlins will have to have one great sales pitch for future free agents. After the recent fire-sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, I couldn't imagine players wanting to go to Miami and play for this organization.
This type of signing makes sense for the Marlins as they need to make a move to bring the excitement back to the fanbase. This could also demonstrate that the Marlins are really dedicated to providing a winning product on the field.
The problem is Bourn's agent is Scott Boras, who will command top dollar from Miami and probably a no-trade clause to avoid his client being involved in a future trade. These two stipulations will most likely scare Miami away from signing Bourn.
Odds Michael Bourn goes to Miami: 500-1
The Mets did trade away Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays this offseason but also opened up their wallet and locked up David Wright with an eight-year contract extension. Between Wright and Ike Davis, the Mets have plenty of power at the top of their lineup but could really use someone to set the table.
Last season, the Mets had very little speed in their lineup, with Wright leading the team with 15 stolen bases. Having Bourn as a leadoff hitter would create several more RBI opportunities for Wright and Davis.
The Mets could be a little hesitant to offer a big contract since they haven't worked out for them previously; the Jason Bay contract is probably still fresh in their minds. Michael Bourn is not like Jason Bay, though, with him just entering his prime and being able to offer great defense in that big outfield at Citi Field.
Odds Michael Bourn goes to New York Mets: 100-1
The Seattle Mariners would jump for joy if they were able to get Michael Bourn after missing out on Josh Hamilton; however, Seattle has been a hard sell to top free agents.
With the pursuit of Josh Hamilton it looks like the Mariners are ready to move on from the idea of Franklin Gutierrez being their full-time center fielder, and Bourn could fit nicely into their lineup.
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times believes that Bourn would be a great fit for the Mariners, and the case he makes would make sense for the free-agent outfielder. Many players are afraid to go to Safeco Field due to their power numbers dropping (in fact, Safeco's fences will be brought in slightly for 2013), but that wouldn't be the case for Bourn because that has never been his strength.
With Bourn's speed, if he is able to hit liners to the gaps in the outfield, he could collect extra-base hits in bunches. He could regularly be in scoring position, which would provide RBI opportunities for Dustin Ackley and Kendrys Morales.
Odds Michael Bourn goes to Seattle: 80-1
It seemed like a pretty good certainty that B.J. Upton would end up in Philadelphia, but that obviously was not the case with him signing in Atlanta. The Phillies, however, did not wait long and swung a trade with the Twins for Ben Revere. This trade might make it seem like they would no longer have interest in Michael Bourn.
However, because they have not been able to sign a corner infielder, adding Michael Bourn could be a good fit. The Phillies could move Revere to right field where he played 84 games last season and make Bourn their primary center fielder.
There would be a ton of speed at the top of their order with Bourn and Revere, and if the Phillies are able to get a healthy Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins they could have a pretty potent offense.
Odds Michael Bourn goes to Philadelphia: 50-1
The Rangers are the clear front-runner to sign Michael Bourn as they have showed the most interest to date. According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Rangers met with Cody Ross the week before Christmas to try to fill an outfield spot, but Ross decided to sign with Arizona.
This leaves Michael Bourn left for the Rangers to fill a hole left by Hamilton. Now while Bourn won't have the same skill set as Josh Hamilton, he would still be a good fit on this team.
The Rangers have lost a lot of firepower this offseason with the loss of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young, but they should still have a strong offense with Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus and could be almost as potent with Michael Bourn leading off for them.
Odds Michael Bourn goes to Texas: 10-1