MLB Free Agents 2013: Why the Seattle Mariners Haven't Signed Michael Bourn

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIJanuary 3, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 30: Michael Bourn #24 of the Atlanta Braves hits an RBI single in the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Turner Field on September 30, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Over the course of this offseason, there have been a few articles here on Bleacher Report (most recently from Featured Columnist Todd Pheifer) about why the Seattle Mariners should pursue free agent center fielder Michael Bourn.

I myself have written about why Bourn would be a useful addition for this Seattle club.

Yet the deal hasn't happened and there aren't rumors running rampant that the Mariners and Bourn are even close.

Why is that?

After all, Bourn does seem to fit into Seattle's plans really well and they should have the cash to get a deal done.

There are, however, some fairly evident reasons why the Mariners are holding out on signing the offseason's top remaining free agent.

First and foremost, there is the issue of losing their first-round draft pick. This year, the top nine first-round picks are protected (meaning those teams would only have to forfeit their second rounder). Unfortunately for the Mariners, they hold the No. 11 overall pick, meaning it's not protected and signing Bourn would entail giving up what almost amounts to a top-10 pick.

What's worse, the Mariners would have to commit $100 million to the 30-year-old Houston native in order to retain his services.

The next factor that could be causing some hesitation among Seattle's front office is the fact that Michael Bourn is 30 years old.

While he did steal 42 bases in 2012, that's still his lowest total since 2008, when he stole 41. And that season Bourn played 17 fewer games than he did in 2012 and had an on-base percentage 60 points lower (h/t

This, combined with his struggles in the latter stages of 2012, could indicate that his production is beginning to decline and that his age is slowly catching up to him.

Finally there is the fact that the Mariners do still have Franklin Gutierrez signed through this season, which could have the M's thinking that it'd be wise to pass on Bourn and pursue one of next year's top outfield free agents.

After all, Franklin Gutierrez is a reliable defensive center fielder and is serviceable at the plate.

And while his health is a concern for the Mariners since he's only played 132 games between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Gutierrez played 22 games in Venezuela this winter, showing no signs of rust as he hit .349 in his native country.

So, while there are definitely some obvious reasons for the Mariners to go after Michael Bourn before the 2013 season kicks off, one can also see why GM Jack Zduriencik and his front office team may be apprehensive to fork over such a large deal this offseason.