MLB Free Agents 2013: Should the Chicago Cubs Sign Michael Bourn?

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MLB Free Agents 2013: Should the Chicago Cubs Sign Michael Bourn?
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With spring training approaching and some free agents still left unsigned, it stands to reason that names like Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse will soon come off of the free-agent market.

According to Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus (premium subscription required), the Chicago Cubs are one of three teams that could not only benefit from his services, but also afford the Scott Boras client.

So what would Bourn bring to the table for this Cubs squad?

For starters, Bourn would give the Cubs a solid bat at the top of the order, a legitimate base-stealing threat (the 30-year-old has reached the 40-stolen-base plateau in each of the last five seasons) as well as a dependable center fielder. The negatives to signing Bourn outweigh the positives.

Another advantage the Cubs have in trying to sign the speedster is that they would not have to surrender their first-round draft pick to sign Bourn thanks to the new "protected draft pick" provision in the new CBA (explained in more depth here by Bleacher Report prospects expert Mike Rosenbaum). Instead, they would give up their second-round selection.

With the Cubs outfield sorely lacking at this point, Bourn would be a welcome addition to Wrigley Field.

There are some reasons the Cubs may want to lay off the Houston native as well, though.

His cost will surely be a deterrent to the front office, as Bourn is seeking over $100 million.

For a rebuilding club, that isn't ideal.

His production also took a dive in 2012, especially down the stretch, which could be a cause for concern, especially if the Cubs are going to fork over more than $100 million.

Another reason to hold off for Chicago is the 2014 free-agent class.

With Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Corey Hart and Shin-Soo Choo all available (barring them signing extensions) next offseason, the Cubs would be wise to move forward with what they've got this season, save the money and make a run at one of those more talented free agents next year.

The team will be closer to contention and could still have a protected first-rounder if they finish with one of the worst records again in 2013.

So the answer as to whether the Cubs should take a run at signing Michael Bourn isn't one that comes with an easy answer. If I was Jed Hoyer, though, I would probably refrain from inking the veteran center fielder to a long term, expensive deal.

 

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