On Wednesday afternoon, the New York Mets would not deny their reported interest in the top position player still remaining on the free-agent market—former Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Bourn.
According to a report from ESPN's Adam Rubin, a league source with knowledge of the team's plans would not rule out a potential Bourn signing. There are no true leadoff hitters on the roster, and Bourn's price would likely be way down—both factors that likely draw general manager Sandy Alderson closer.
If that's really the case, it's a foolish move for a franchise that is in clear rebuilding mode.
However, Ken Rosenthal reported on Twitter that the Mets didn't have any chance at making a run at Bourn after Rubin's initial report:
Either way, one person familiar with #Mets doubts team will meet Scott Boras' price for Bourn. "Zero chance," he said.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 24, 2013
Reports are just that—reports. The Mets have gone back and forth on their reported interest, but if they've let it leak that Bourn is a possibility, he'll be a possibility until he signs with another team.
It's not that Bourn isn't a good fit for this ballclub. He's young, he's a proven talent in a position of clear need for New York and his sense of desperation to arrive at a big league locker room will likely drive down his price—even with noted salary con-man Scott Boras working his contract situation.
The big picture, something management has lacked vision toward in recent trades and signings, is what makes Bourn off-limits for this team.
The Mets would have to give up their draft pick in the 2013 MLB draft, a pick that is the first unprotected one of the lot. New York had jumped into the top 10, but the Pittsburgh Pirates reclaimed their spot after being unable to sign Mark Appel.
The Mets need to build back up a farm system that ranked No. 25 (according to Baseball America) out of 30 MLB teams in terms of quality prospects and depth across all levels of competition.
Based on the recent versions of how the Mets have fared over the past decade, they need all the help they can get in the farm system so that talent can be translated to big league success.
Is the Mets' interest in Michael Bourn misplaced?
The Mets are coming off their fourth straight season of sub-.500 baseball. In fact, since 2001, the Mets have only been to the postseason once, and that was in 2006 when they missed out on a World Series appearance to the St. Louis Cardinals.
It's disappointing that the Mets would entertain the idea of giving up their 11th overall pick for a player who has yet to impress any of the other teams in need of outfield help (ATL, TEX, SEA). In worse news, two of those teams are contenders, and they don't think Bourn is a good fit to help get to the next level.
Bust or not, that No. 11 pick is worth more than a free agent in this year's class of players. The Mets have done a nice job of clearing payroll and getting back to the right way to run a team, but Bourn's signing would send this team back into the dark depths of mismanagement.
Rosenthal's report appears to have the Mets in the clear, but you never know in New York.
Ethan Grant is a Featured Columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Check him out on Twitter.