How Many Extra Wins Would Signing Michael Bourn Bring to the New York Mets?

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How Many Extra Wins Would Signing Michael Bourn Bring to the New York Mets?
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With spring training now just days away, two of the market's top free agents in Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse remain unsigned as of Wednesday afternoon.

While the market for Lohse remains a mystery, the Mets have finally come forward and identified themselves as suitors for Bourn.

According to an article from the New York Post, the Mets are making a push to sign the speedy center fielder, and star third baseman David Wright is assisting in the recruiting process. Here is what Wright had to say:

“I just wanted to let him know that he would be a great addition here and he’d obviously be welcomed here. I just feel he’s a hard-nosed player. I wanted to be there to answer any question he might have and let him know that with some of the young arms that we have and the young talent we have, we are not far off.’’

GM Sandy Alderson echoed the same sentiments in the piece, pointing to how close the team is to contention and how Bourn could be another step toward contention:

“We’re getting to the point where we can be in the mix,’’ Alderson said. “If you look at the fundamental composition of our team, it wouldn't take more than a couple of moves to change the whole perception of things.’’

The major sticking point right now for both guys is the draft pick compensation that is tied to signing them. The top 10 picks in the draft are protected. While the Mets had the 10th-worst record in the league last season, they currently hold the 11th-overall pick and are appealing to get that pick protected as well.

If they can find a way to make signing Bourn work, he would be a welcome addition to the Mets both atop the lineup and in an incredibly thin outfield.

Here is a look at the Mets' projected Opening Day lineup without Bourn:

  • SS Ruben Tejada
  • 2B Daniel Murphy
  • 3B David Wright
  • 1B Ike Davis
  • LF Lucas Duda
  • RF Mike Baxter/Andrew Brown
  • C John Buck
  • CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Collin Cowgill 
  • Pitcher 

And the lineup with Bourn:

  • CF Michael Bourn
  • SS Ruben Tejada
  • 3B David Wright
  • 1B Ike Davis
  • LF Lucas Duda
  • 2B Daniel Murphy
  • RF Mike Baxter/Andrew Brown
  • C John Buck
  • Pitcher 

It's certainly a better-looking lineup with Bourn in it, as it allows Murphy to move into a run-production role and improves the outfield defense significantly given Bourn's range.

What would adding Bourn mean in terms of wins and losses for the upcoming season, though?

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
According to FanGraphs, Bourn was good for 6.4 Wins Above Replacement last season. He was particularly valuable on defense, saving a whopping 22.4 runs in center field over the replacement player, tops in the majors.

That total may have been even higher had he not been playing alongside Jason Heyward, who ranked second in the league with 21.5 runs saved and an MLB-best 22.9 UZR.

On defense alone, he should be worth another 3-4 Wins Above Replacement, given his superior range and run-saving abilities.

On the offensive side of things, he strikes out more than you'd like from your leadoff hitter (155 in 2012) but ranks as one of the top leadoff hitters in baseball.

How Many More Games Would The Mets Win With Micheal Bourn?

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Last season, he hit .274/.348/.391, and that is right in line with his career numbers of .272/.339/.365. His slugging percentage spiked thanks to a career-high nine home runs, and he could sit around that range for the next few seasons.

If he can cut down the strikeouts and get on base a bit more, he could emerge as a truly elite offensive player. Throw in the elite baserunning totalshe has topped the 40-steal mark in each of the past five seasons and tallied a total of 257 steals over that spanand he may be worth another three Wins Above Replacement or so hitting atop the lineup.

So all told, signing Bourn to replace essentially replacement-level players in Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill could be good for another six or seven wins for the Mets this coming season.

For a Mets team still on the way up, that likely won't be enough to make them contenders this coming season in a deep NL East. However, a couple seasons from now, he could be a key piece on the Mets' next postseason team.

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