Michael Bourn: Ranking Most Likely Destinations for Free-Agent Outfielder

Benjamin Klein@BenjaminJKleinContributor IIIDecember 20, 2012

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

Michael Bourn is one of the few remaining top free agents left on the market this offseason and it’s still undetermined where he’ll land. The outfielder, who hit .274/.348/.391 with nine home runs, 57 RBI, 96 runs and 42 stolen bases last year, is running out of suitors and, as Buster Olney of ESPN reports, no one knows his future:

Have heard this question many times from execs and agents: What's going to happen with Michael Bourn?

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 12, 2012

Josh Hamilton signing with the Los Angeles Angels and B.J. Upton signing with the Atlanta Braves has truly restricted the number of teams that would be interested in Bourn’s services and as ESPN’s Keith Law writes, Bourn may decide to sign a one-year deal and enter free agency again next season:

Bourn might have to look for a one-year deal that puts him back on the market next winter, but that market also includes Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson, if neither signs an extension before then, putting Bourn in a difficult spot at the moment.

Let’s assume Bourn would be willing to sign either a one-year deal or even a five-year deal to discuss which remaining teams have the best chance at playing for next season—and maybe even longer.

4. New York Yankees

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The Yankees have yet to make a big splash during free agency, and Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe writes that Bourn could be on their radar:

Some believe the Yankees are quietly interested and will pounce if the price comes down, which would give them the leadoff hitter they have wanted for some time.

There are some reports that say otherwise, including one from Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York:

According to the proverbial “source with knowledge,” there is “no chance” the Yankees will sign, or even pursue, Bourn, the speedy free-agent center fielder who spent the last two seasons in Atlanta, despite recent rumors to the contrary.

New York currently has Curtis Granderson in center field, but his contract is set to expire after the 2013 season. Signing Bourn would give plenty of outfield depth if Granderson could move to left field in favor of Brett Gardner.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have been one of baseball’s top spenders this offseason, landing the likes of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. There is a possibility that you could add Bourn to that list, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:

The Dodgers are shopping Ethier, major-league sources say—and their intent might be to clear a spot for a free agent such as first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher or center fielder Michael Bourn.

Los Angeles recently signed Ethier to a six-year extension with a vesting option for 2018 and moving him now would be a very interesting move. The Dodgers already have one of the best lineups in the game and adding Bourn would only improve that—but only marginally since he would be replacing an All-Star in Ethier.

Money doesn’t seem to be an obstacle with the Dodgers lately and Bourn could be the next name to add to their future payroll.

2. Kansas City Royals

The Royals will be playing to win the AL Central and make a run at the World Series in 2013. If they weren’t planning on doing so, they probably wouldn’t have traded top prospect Wil Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays in a megadeal that brought veteran right-hander James Shields to Kansas City.

Another way to improve the Royals’ playoff chances would be to sign Bourn, but they would probably only sign him to a one-year deal, according to Keith Law of ESPN:

One other team that could benefit from Bourn, if he’ll take a one-year deal, is the Royals, whose overhauled rotation would look even better with one of the game’s premier fly catchers out in center.

The Royals would basically have to make Bourn a one-year offer that he couldn’t refuse since he will likely draw longer contracts. It would have to be convincing enough to re-enter the market after the 2013 season comes to an end. But if the market continues to dwindle for Bourn, like it already has, he may be forced to sign with a team like Kansas City.


1. Seattle Mariners

Competing against the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics—and not the Houston Astros—will be tough for the Mariners, but they’re going to give it a shot. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Mariners could have interest in signing Bourn:

The Mariners may be emerging as a possible suitor for Michael Bourn. Seattle has been in on Josh Hamilton and Justin Upton and has been seen as targeting corner players more than a center fielder, but they could sign Bourn and move Franklin Gutierrez to a corner outfield spot.

Seattle already has a few good starters and an ace in Felix Hernandez, but they need to improve their lineup drastically. They have already made a move to acquire Kendrys Morales and Bourn could be the next, writes Heyman:

The Mariners badly need offense, so they are in on a lot of hitters. Bourn would give the Mariners one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, as he is considered one of the two or three best center fielders in baseball.

Seattle may also be willing to give Bourn to type of contract that other teams cannot, making them an extremely attractive option.

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