Breaking down Michael Bourn: Pros and cons of signing the free agent CF

Breaking down Michael Bourn: Pros and cons of signing the free agent CF

I hope everyone had a nice holiday.  As for me, we had a fun but casual night at a new place in Forest Park called Piggyback Tavern.  Great BBQ and a lounge downstairs with local, small-batch whiskey and comfy couches.  That's a pretty good combo if you ask me.

Anyway, after a bit of a break for both me and the Cubs this holiday season, it's back to work for everyone.  I haven't yet decided whether I will write a similar breakdown of pitchers, but I did write something similar back when I did my scouting reports on #1 pitchers and closers.

The biggest need right now is CF and there is one free agent that still stands out at that position -- Michael Bourn.   In some ways he's a great fit but in other ways, it's a big gamble for a rebuilding team.   After Theo Epstein's ill-fated gamble on Carl Crawford in Boston, perhaps he's a little hesitant to pull the trigger on Bourn.  More likely, he doesn't view the potential signing of Bourn as a clear long term win for the Cubs.

Here are some of the pros and cons of signing Bourn...

The Player

Pros: CF defense, OBP, Speed

  • Bourn adds elite CF defense to a team that's looking to win with pitching and defense this year.  He has  a career UZR/150 of 10.7 in CF and has had a 20+ UZR/150 in 2 of the last 3 years, including a career high 22.5 mark last season.
  • Bourn has solid OBP skills and while his career .343 mark isn't overwhelming, it would rate very well on a team that struggles getting on base.  His career walk rate of 8.8% is above the MLB average.
  • Bourn not only steals bases, he steals them efficiently.  He has swiped bags at a rate of 81% in his career and has averaged 51 SBs over the past 5 years.  He hasn't slipped much recently.  Last year he stole 42 bases at a 76% rate of success.

Con: The regression of a player who is already considered just average overall on offense

  • Despite a solid OBP and prolific base stealing ability, Bourn is just average on offense overall.  In his last 3 seasons, he has put up wOBAs of .308, .325, and .326 -- the latter two years being around the league average.  Some of that is due to a lack of power.  Last year Bourn had career highs of 9 HRs and a .117 ISO,but both marks are outliers.  Bourn had hit 7 total HRs in the 3 years prior and his previous career high was 5. His ISO is a below average .090 for his career.
  • As an age 30 player, Bourn is past his peak years and we should start to see some regression in his offense.  Although it isn't likely to be a big drop, Bourn is already an average offensive player overall.  Bill James projects him at a .313  OBA in 2013, which is below league average.

Gaining Long term value

Pros: Flipping Bourn for prospect(s), the improved defense reflects on pitcher results

  • If the Cubs don't contend in 2013 as expected, they'll have the opportunity to flip Michael Bourn for a prospect or two at the deadline.  We've seen the Twins bring back nice hauls for similar players in Denard Span (Alex Meyer) and Ben Revere (Vince Worley, Trevor May).  It should be noted, however, that Span is on a team friendly contract through 2014 with a 2015 team option.  He'll average just over $5M/yr the next two years while Bourn is said to be looking for almost 3x that amount.  Ben Revere is cost-controlled until 2018.
  • It's one thing to try and pick up value with pitchers with low FIPS, but you need to put a good defense behind them for those results (ERA) to match or outperform those low FIPs.  The Cubs biggest defensive weakness at this point is in CF and Bourn would shore that up.  It should have a ripple effect on pitcher's performance and thus, their potential trade value as well.

Con: Draft pick compensation

  • While we can't expect the Cubs to receive a haul similar to what the Twins did, in order for this to pay off long term, the Cubs return on a trade must exceed the value of a draft pick in the 35-40 range.  Jason McLeod is said to value this pick highly, indicating that there are a few prospects they like in what is otherwise considered a weak draft.  There should be a good college or high school pitcher available then.  High school catching is also deep.  Those two positions coincide with what are perhaps the Cubs biggest organizational needs.
  • I don't expect the Cubs to recoup that draft pick through their own qualifying offer.  Much like agent Scott Boras did with Edwin Jackson last season, I expect Bourn will either sign the mult-year deal he wants, after which he isn't likely to be worth that sort of qualifying offer, or he he will sign a one year deal with a team that involves an implicit promise not to make that offer, so as to eliminate that drag on his marketability in next year's offseason.
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs wrote an interesting article on how all teams value those draft picks more because of the new CBA.  Four of the eight free agents who received qualifying offers remain unsigned.  In the past, teams could make up for a lost pick with a well above slot signing in the later rounds, but the new agreement makes it very difficult to do that now.  The result is that the first couple of rounds in the draft have much higher value than they've had in past seasons.  For a rebuilding club, they are perhaps even more important.

One year contract

Pros: Avoids blocking prospects/regression

  • A one year deal is nice because the Cubs can avoid any potential entanglements with prospect Brett Jackson.  Jackson is  a question mark going into 2013 but if he's ready by midseason or earlier, the Cubs could come to regret blocking his path with Bourn.  He could temporarily move to the corners until 2014 if the Cubs need to find a place for him.  Even at worst, the Cubs would only be delaying Jackson's arrival by a couple of months.
  • While Bourn is expected to regress, that isn't likely to have a huge impact on 2013, so the regression will be minimal.

Cons: Getting value back on  rental, team not expected to contend in 2013

  • The problem with a one year deal is that the Cubs would have to sell Bourn on a rental with no expectation of a draft pick to mitigate a potential trading partner's risk.  That would lower his value even in a good season.  The value you gain in a best case scenario is the value of a good prospect(s) minus  the value of  a top 40-ish draft pick.  If he has a mediocre season or gets hurt, the Cubs may not even recoup the value of that lost draft pick.
  • While the team should always try to improve, reality says it's a long shot that the Cubs will contend, so you have to question the wisdom of getting a one year deal on  a player when you are likely to be under .500 for the season.  The short term gain is minimal and the long term value in trade, as noted above, entails a lot of risk.  It's debatable whether even the potential best case scenario reward justifies that risk.

Multi-Year Contract

Pros: Team would have a plus CF'er as they enter competitive years, more cost control

  • Signing  Bourn to a multi-year deal increases the probability of gaining a short term reward.  I don't believe Bourn will accept a 2 year deal.  It's either going to be a one year deal or at least 3 years.  It's not out of the question that the Cubs could contend in the latter years of a multi-year deal.  Bourn should still be able to provide plus defense and speed at that point.
  • It may be easier to trade Bourn knowing that you can keep him for at least 2 more years.  While Bourn would be expensive, the Cubs could increase his value by paying off some of the contract in exchange for getting better prospect value.

Cons: Regression, may block prospects

  • Depending on how long the contract is, the Cubs should start seeing a steeper regression by the tail end of the deal.  Even if the Cubs pay a significant portion of the deal, teams may fear giving up top prospects simply because they don't believe Bourn will be worth that price over the long haul.  As we mentioned above, he's projected to be a below average offensive player as soon as next year and we should expect it to to continue to decline.
  • Depending on the length of the deal, the Cubs could end up blocking other prospects such as Matt Szczur, who may be ready by 2014 or Albert Almora, who is expected to move quickly and could conceivably be ready by sometime in 2015.

Final thoughts...
As a straight out signing, I don't think the short term gain is worth the risk of potential long term loss, but the Cubs could make it more palatable if the deal itself has a domino effect where the Cubs open up OF spots by trading other veterans (i.e. Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus) for prospects and/or young players.  The net gain of prospects for Soriano, DeJesus, and Bourn is more likely to offset the loss of that draft pick.  Soriano, though, is likely to be traded (or at least the Cubs will try) regardless of what they decide on Bourn.  The real gain may be what the Cubs could pick up for DeJesus, who becomes expendable with the addition of Shierholtz in RF if the Cubs also sign Bourn to play CF.  If the Cubs feel they could recoup the value of their lost draft pick by flipping Bourn and trading the suddenly more expendable DeJesus, then it becomes a lot easier for me to swallow.

Overall, however, that's a lot of work that is partially contingent on other teams willingness to make a deal which would be acceptable for all sides.  In the end, I think there are too many variables and moving parts for this to work in the Cubs favor.  It's not impossible but, even with a dwindling market or Bourn, a lot of things have to fall in place for the Cubs to sign him and still make sure they don't hurt themselves long term.
What are your thoughts?

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    If QA players keep having this much trouble signing deals, the players union will probably go to the mat to kill this thing when it expires. Here's hoping.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It should at least be modified. You can't make these picks that much more valuable and expect teams to give them up easily.

  • Personally, I can't justify losing that draft pick. It's just too important right now. All things considered, signing bourn has greater risk than reward.

  • In reply to NUcat:

    I agree. Having a hard time justifying it myself.

  • I say yes to a one year deal but with some pause. It would also be a prove it deal, with no agreement not to give the qualifying offer (and if there is a wink-wink agreement, I say the Cubs do it anyway, because screw Boras). Right now our 2nd round pick is set to be 35th and will go down one spot for every team with a protected pick that signs a FA. If we get a comp pick, that pick would be equivalent to a late first rounder next year.

    Call me crazy, but I think we have a good chance at a respectable team next year, as in .500 with a chance for better things. Bourn gives us a bit better chance at having a surprise which would make the season a lot more fun to watch even if it doesn't end in the playoffs. Also, Bourn is probably going to be between 3-4 WAR next year and that is probably more than the average 35-40th pick accumulates in their whole career. The Cubs just have to jump on that because star players will just so rarely be willing to settle for that. In the end I doubt it's relevant because I don't think he will sign for that but I don't see almost any downside to getting him. When the Cubs don't have a 2nd round pick on draft day, it will be sad, but it's easy to forget that if the team is decent next year

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    In reply to Andrew:

    "because screw Boras"

    You get to say that exactly once -- and then pray you never, ever have to do business with him again.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    Problem is Boras won't sign a one year deal if it's not going to get any better situation next year. Bourn will be one year older an is unlikely to duplicate his 2012 season. He's going to want that promise if he's going to do a one year deal.

    And I don't think the Cubs should screw Boras considering he's the agent for the top 2 players in the draft next year (Appel and Manaea). Front offices have to keep good relationships with agents.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    Is Michael Bourn a "star player"?

  • In reply to Andrew:

    Well based on a WEEI interview with Theo this evening, he is not going to give up draft picks for a free agent. So I think you can forget about Bourn being signed by the Cubs. (see Bleachernation's latest post)

  • The only Bourn deal that makes sense to me would be a two-year contract with one or two mutual option years. If he declines an option, the Cubs could recoup their draft pick by making a qualifying offer. Any commitment longer than two years would potentially block Almora and/or Szczur.

    On the plus side for Bourn, his defense would make our flippable pitchers stats more attractive. On the minus side, any serious leg injury would make him a very highly paid utility OF.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    I agree that a two year deal with options makes more sense for the Cubs but that's not the scenario Bourn/Boras want.

  • I am coming to believe that the cubs simply won't place that much value in that second round pick.

    According to this website, the probability that a #10 overall pick ever adds just one WAR to a team is about 33%. With that in mind I really hope the cubs don't forgo a really team friendly one year deal for a proven very good player for a less than 1 in 3 chance that we get a decent player 3-4 years from now

  • In reply to Andrew:

    They already do -- as does every other team out there. There are win-now teams who could use a CF that steered clear of Bourn. If they were only worried about a 1 in 3 chance he would have been signed a long time ago. More to it than that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    There are teams that steered clear of him, but they also did it for more cost controlled players.

    They also likely steered clear of him because a one year deal isn't on the table for Bourn. I agree the Cubs shouldn't go to 4-5 years for him, but I don't think Bourn is willing to sign for less than 4 and that's why teams have steered clear.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    Trust me. It's more than just the demand of a multi-year deal that's holding things up. There are a lot of factors in play here.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Without a cited source, I don't buy it. Teams lost picks for the likes of Ryan Madson and Heath Bell last year if I recall and the draft had the same rules. Also at this time last year, Edwin Jackson hadn't been signed (and the team that signed him wouldn't have even lost a pick) Fielder and Pujols hadn't been signed and still won big. I think we're rushing to make assumptions until the offseason is over as to how big of an effect this has. Soriano, Lohse, Bourn all are represented by Boras who is notorious for not signing his free agents until later in the offseason.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    As if I'm about to tell you who my sources are. I'd like to keep them. Don't trust me then, it makes no difference to me. Keep using your anecdotal evidence if you prefer, but you an always find that sort of evidence for any angle.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Like your sources would mind if a couple dozen random people from the web contacted them to double-check you. I don't see the problem here.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Sure, no problem at all. They'd love it :)

  • In reply to Andrew:

    So I guess even without being able to give a QO at the end of the season, I hope the cubs jump on a one year deal if it were possible (and I really don't think it is possible. Boras got fired last time he had his client settle for one year and I think he doesn't want to do that again and I think between the Mariners, Rangers and mystery teams, someone will be willing to go at least 4)

  • In reply to Andrew:

    I agree. Some team will give in and I'd be surprised if it were the Cubs. Rangers seem like a good bet to me. Mariners could surprise too.

  • Right now, I have the Cubs' second round draft pick at #40, behind the 30 regular first round picks, the Pirates' comp pick for not signing Appel, the Yankees' comp pick for losing Swisher to Cleveland (who will lose their 2nd round pick), the first six lottery picks and the Astros' second round pick. Our pick will move down if any of Soriano, Lohse, Bourn or LaRoche sign with a team with a protected first-round pick.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    Some teams will lose their first round picks for signing FAs, making the first round shorter than 30 picks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    But every pick that gets lost in the first round is made up for in the sandwich round. Therefore the First round plus supplemental round will be at least 31 picks and will go up one for every time a team with a protected pick signs a FA

  • In reply to cubsin:

    Ah yes I forgot about the lottery picks. so it will be at best a #40 overall pick.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    Ah, wait,didn't see that you wrote "protected first round pick" there at first.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    And all of those signings will result in a compensation pick between rounds 1 and 2. So the total picks before the Cubs second pick stays at 39, unless a team with a protected #1 signs another QFA.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    Don't the first 6 lottery picks (Competitive balance picks) come after the second round. I don't remember for sure, but it sounds right.

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    The Cubs have been played once this off-season already!
    A Bourn deal doesn't make any sense for them now and the only one who stands to gain is Boras/Bourn if he has a great year. He would then seek to make his money next year when there be many more teams in need. Having him in CF isn't gonna put the Cubs over the top by a long stretch.
    I've got a feeling about BJackson. He impressed me with his business-like attitude and determination to fix his flaws. A kid with his work ethic could be a surprise this year and then what would they do? Trade Bourn at the deadline for a couple of A ballers!

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    Agreed...if you sign Bourn for one year...what's the point? Unless you honestly think you can win in 2013, then retaining long term value depends on being able to trade him for a prospect or two at the deadline which exceed the value of the lost draft pick. But really, how much are teams going to pay for 2 months of Michael Bourn?

    Haven't yet heard a compelling argument as to why a team like the Cubs should sign for Bourn that doesn't rely on assumptions and best case scenarios.

  • The only reason I think it's possible the Cubs sign Bourn is because of his decreased leverage due to the draft pick. This might usher in a no-trade clause, of which makes a multi-year deal more palatable.

    I don't see him signing a one year deal. That would be surprising.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    I don't think he'll sign a one year deal either. Feeling for me is he'll get his multi-year contract.

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    Honestly I have been waiting for this article to come out for about 2 weeks now. I must say John you did a great job on it. Now to what i think. What if we sign Bourn to a three year deal reasonable money since no one seems to want him. ( you do lose your pick though). Soriano has a good year and we trade him. Then if Brett Jackson is raking in AAA then you bring him up and play him at left ( i believe that is were he ends up after all.) You don't block Jackson or Almora. This is all for not though if and that is a big IF you believe that you can get an impact player or a durable major league player with that pick.

  • In reply to Larry:

    Thanks. I tried to take everything into account. Its a complex decision. I think if you can move some parts around, pick up some prospects in the process then it might work. In the end, I think Bourn is a bit overrated, so not sure he's worth the trouble. That's just my opinion, though. Maybe we'll find out that the Cubs feel differently.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Only thing I have to say is one of the first things Theo/Jed said when they first got here. We will not pay for past performance, we will not sign players past their prime and without any upside left. Signing Bourn will be doing the exact opposite. Every player we've signed so far this offseason fits their initial plan. Baker, Jackson, Shierholtz, Villanueva, Feldman, etc all have upside/projection left. Bourn is maxed out as a player and will only get worse from here. Exactly the type of signing Theo & co said they wouldn't make...And I believe them.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Good point and Bourn is a good candidate to regress. Maybe not a lot in year one, but certainly over a 4-5 year deal. I think if Bourn were 27 or even 28, he might get that 4 year deal from the Cubs. Maybe. So far the only players they've pursued have been guys not attached to draft pick comp.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Man if that new CBA isn't a game changer in ways that maybe weren't even contemplated. It used to be a given that certain teams could still get 2nd round value in later rounds by just throwing cash at the problem, making having to sacrifice a 2nd round pick a lot more palatable.

    Were it not for that 2nd round pick Bourn would have been off the market on 3-4 year deal a looooooong time ago.....

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    I think so too. it's not a coincidence that the 4 top FAs left are attached to draft pick comp

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    It certainly is a game changer. And one thing that very seldom gets mentioned is that one of the most effective tools that Epstein used to bring success to Boston was to dump money into lower round draft choices, effectively getting 4 or 5 first/second round picks every year.

    That tactic has been pretty much eliminated.

    Epstein has upgraded the Cubs front office, (with the permission and encouragement of Ricketts), and I expect that the Cubs will be much better than they were under Hendry (and the Tribune), but the fact remains that Epstein has lost the biggest and most effective arrow in his quiver..

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    In reply to DaveP:

    "the fact remains that Epstein has lost the biggest and most effective arrow in his quiver."

    I've seen this several times, and it kind of rubs me the wrong way. There are two options here. One is that Theo is an intelligent and saavy baseball guy who knows how to get the best value using the system in place. As such, he used the later rounds of the draft to acquire talent when that was possible. Now that it isn't, he will find a new way.

    The other option is that his success was based largely on one trick -- the only one he knows -- and without that the success will decline.

    I choose to believe the former -- and in fact his recent plays of signing high upside free agents to flip at the deadline suggests someone working within the new system to rebuild the minor leagues.

  • the only reason, and i mean the only reason that i would be okay with signing michael bourn would be if t/j were confident that they could flip him and another player at the deadline to get an ELITE pitching prospect, something that we would not be able to get in the second round of the draft.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    That would be fine, but I don't see why a team would give up an elite prospect for 2 months of Michael Bourn. Even Zack Greinke got Jean Segura, a good but certainly not elite prospect.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with John. I can't see any situation where the Cubs could get an elite pitching prospect for Bourn in July. I think a Christian Villenueva level prospect would be the most you could expect, and that only if you paid all of the remaining portion of Bourn's salary.

    Of course, you are not likely to get an elite pitching prospect in the second round of the draft either.

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    For all of those who believe signing Bourn would be a "great move" and "help us contend"...The only rebuttal I need for that is to ask a few simple questions.

    1. If he was so good, why havn't teams that clearly had/have a need for a CF even thought about signing him?

    Teams like Texas. Seattle, etc? Atlanta chose to pay more for a talented but inconsistent B.J. Upton rather than re-sign a guy they'd already traded for. Philly, an old team, would rather give up 2 of their best young pitching prospects then sign Bourn long term. Red flag? If he was as good as some of you believe he'd be gone by now, teams clearly believe their draft pick has more value than Bourn. That holds weight.

    2. He's already just average offensively and will only get worse as he gets older and loses speed. I don't care how good on defense you are, is that worth 13mil-15mil which seems to be the minimum he'll take?

    No, there's not a single argument anyone can use to convince me Micheal Bourn is a 13mil a year way....Believe it or not, if you compare Bourn with Dejesus career statistics show they are pretty similar fact....Dejesus has been a slightly better player. Is Dejesus worth 13mil? Pfft

    3. If 31yr old Angel Pagan of all people can get 4yrs 40mil, what on earth makes people think Bourn will settle for a 1-2 yr deal?

    He WILL hold out until some team gets desperate enough to pay his price, and may god help the team that does.

    Bourn is an overrated and maxed out as a player..... he has overrated himself on the market, and the draft pick comp seals the deal on any team signing him gaining any long term value. He has no upside left and you'd be"paying for past performance" again which is something I thought we wanted to stay away from.....You guys have to ask yourselves "why is this guy on the market so late" The answer is the only teams dumb enough to sign him long term already have CF's, teams like us, Texas, Washington, etc know he would be a terrible investment on any type of deal.....

    1yr deal = What's the point? he's not good enough to make a difference

    2yr deal = Most logical for us, least logical for Bourn so won't happen

    3yr + = Congrats, we have acquired Chone Figgins 2.0. We've also made the same mistake we just spent the last year trying to undo. Being hampered by aging, past their prime players on long term deals.

    I'm in the camp that would be highly disappointed if we're the one team dumb enough to give up our pick and pool money to sign Bourn when other teams won't....probably because they want to see what idiot bites the hook. He's one leg injury away from being a 4th outfielder. I'd rather take my chance with Bjax and take my lumps. I thought the days of bad investments on maxed out players based on past performance was a thing of the past.

    Sorry for long post.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Well said, Marcel. To me, Bourn would make a great 4th outfielder already, which is what DeJesus is as well. I like that he will help us defensively but so will Jackson. As John pointed out, it will take a lot of variables to fall into place for this to work. Our FO in no way should take that risk, and as Marcel states they haven't and they won't.

    As for the 2nd round pick, throw the old stats out the window. The first two rounds are a lot more valuable in the new CBA. The point is to flood the minors with potential talent until we are ready to contend. Then see what sticks. It just doesn't make sense to me to give away potential value even if the pick has more chance to fail then succeed for a guy on the decline. chchance t
    see what sticks. Giving away a long term asset is not the

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thank you Marcel! I felt like I was reading my own words. Agreed 100%. Very over-rated player. I hope we take a pass. I would be very disappointed if we signed him.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Good stuff Marcel.

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    Just a quick thought. I don't know if this can be done. What if the cubs sign to a 1 year deal, with a stipulation that if his traded before the dead line 1 more year is added to his contract with 10-25% raise on the extension. I don't know if Bourn would be interested in that kink of deal. It would give him a chance to get his value to league back up.

  • In reply to Michael Klein:

    Something like that can probably be done. I'm not sure Bourn would be interested in a 2 year deal, though. I think it's either 1 or 3 at the least (and probably 4). As a 30 year old player coming off a career year, he's never going to get this opportunity again.

  • The only way i could see the rational is if maybe the Cubs sign him to a 3 year deal, then flip Soriano or Dejesus. Then they plan on moving Jackson to a corner spot with his power, after a midseason trade. They would probably be assuming that Szczur's ceiling is a 4th outfielder and that Almora should develop slowly.

    While Bourn isn't likely to have a career year, i believe his decline from 30-32 age seasons will be close to his peak War. I think after 32 is when you see much great decline.

    Also despite the recent rapid declines of speedsters like Chone Figgins and Carl Crawford, speed players have generally declined slower.

    I don't think Rangers or mariners plan on bidding high. Texas has Martin and Gentry. While the mariners have Michael Saunders. I think Boras is screwd.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    I agree that you can mitigate loss of long term prospects by trading DeJesus. Soriano will be traded anyway, eventually. I'm just not sure you can get enough for DeJesus and a 31-32 year old Bourn (if the Cubs decide to trade him soon). It's a risk no matter how you look at it.

    I've seen those studies on speed players and I'm a big fan of TangoTiger, but I think speed players are really just a subset of the real group that doesn't regress as quickly -- good athletes.

    Saunders makes it less of a need for Bourn, but he's a better RFer. Having him in RF and Bourn in CF would increase that OF defense tremendously, which is much needed in that park. The Mariners have so far picked up players like Kendry Morales, Raul Ibanez, and Jason Bay. They need guys who can go get the ball.

  • Count me as one of those people who would rather not sign Bourn. Like people have said , if he was really valuable he would have been signed already. No one will sign him longer than 2 years and I really don't think he's worth it . If the Cubs do sign him, I'm okay with it but I'm not enthusiastic about him.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I think it's easy to just say "it's only a 2nd round pick" but it's not about that specific player, it's about building a cache of prospects, depth at every position so that you can better survive attrition and even have depth tor trades. We've seen what teams with strong farm systems can do. They just have more options across the board. Cubs need to continue to build that.

  • Good stuff John. Personally, I don't think there is anyway that Bourne is a Cub this year. It seems to me that the FO would value that pick around 38 a ton even though there is a good chance that a 2nd rd pick flames out. I think they have a ton of confidence in their talent evaluating, and want a chance to hit it out of the park with early picks. And after seeing what happened to Figgins, no thanks on Bourne...

  • In reply to Justin:

    Thanks Justin!

    Based on the stuff Theo was saying today (new blog), it appears he agrees with us.

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    I believe Nyjer Morgan is still unsigned, why not just sign him? It would be far less expensive, only 1 year, and he can play CF or at least be a nice late inning defensive replacement for DeJesus. His career slash line is about the same or better than Bourn's. He is coming off a weak season with the bat, but has been a decent, not great, player for a while. He should be a good candidate for a rebound year if you keep your expectations in check. His career OBP is higher than Bourn's, so is his batting avg. and his slg is .001 less. Not saying he's Michael Bourn-lite, because he's even more streaky than Bourn, but at the prices these guys will sign for, it makes more sense for the Cubs to sign Morgan.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    John and I have both said we like the idea of Morgan but I think they may need a bit more pop so neither unless they keep Sori.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    That might work. He and Bourn also have similar career RC+ and UZR numbers, as long as Cubs are okay with his odd antics. Personally I don't care about them as long as he shows up and plays hard everyday, and they don't affect his teammates.

    I guess Morgan is further along on that regression path so the Cubs less likely to get a good year from him, especially on offense. But he'll play good CF defense and not cost a pick or $75M.

  • I'm all for grabbing Bourn. He's got a 6.4, 4.1, 4.7, and 4.9 WAR the last four years and fits our organizational philosophy to a tee.
    But I'd prefer a multi-year deal, not a one off. Two, three, maybe even four years if the salary's right. Hard to have an in-depth discussion about it though without bringing numbers into it. Even five years would work if he's fallen enough that the numbers are right. You wouldn't even have to think he projects well at year five, just that teams would be willing to give enough for him after year three or four with one or two years of control left.

    I don't see blocking people as a problem any more than I see Scott Baker as blocking Carlos Villanueva as a problem. Good to have that depth. Not a bad thing to have a surplus of major league players - you can deal from a position of strength like the Diamondbacks did with outfielders this year. In fact, I'd go so far to say you start worrying too much about blocking prospects, you shoot yourself in the foot as far as organizational depth.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I don't think you'll get much for a 32-33 year old Michael Bourn. WAR numbers overstate how good he really is. He's essentially an average hitter, due to regress into a below average one who plays great defense. That just doesn't sound like a 15M/yr + draft pick kind of player to me. Could get a similar player for a lot less.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    To each their own. I think you'd easily get a good return for him in a couple years if his numbers stay in the same neighborhood. And I still don't know the difference between fWAR and rWAR (and can't be arsed to do the math), but I like that WAR gives you a general overview of all facets of a player's game. Keeps you from cherry picking stats to reinforce something you already believe, human nature being what it is.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I just have an opinion here. I don't know what the Cubs are thinking. I'm sure the pros and cons I've stated are similar to the ones they're weighing right now. They could weigh them entirely different than I do. If so, I'll trust that they took everything into consideration and we have to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I reserve my right to remain skeptical until Bourn proves me wrong!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I have so much faith in our front office that even the rare move I'm not crazy about (like Edwin Jackson), I'll say, "They must have their reasons" and become optimistic about it. Lol. Nice honeymoon period that will probably last years for me. Nice to have smart guys in there we trust even if we wouldn't do things exactly the same.

  • Good logic John and Marcel. I hope we just pass on Bourn. The Cubs need a good defensively CFer to complete their good pitching/good defense model, but other options are less risky.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Thanks 44. Agreed on getting a less risky option than Bourn in CF. I think he's overrated, but apparently not everyone does. Tom's guy thinks it would be a huge signing for the Cubs. I just don't agree, not at his price.

  • The guy wants $75 million contract......give the CF job to BJax.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Lot of money for that kind of player.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Bourn won't get the length of contract or the total amount of salary he was hoping for when he became a FA.

  • He won't get 5/75, but I think he'll do well.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Agreed,... where's the 'love' for Jackson?

    IF he has the worst of his K-problem minimized (he'll never be conpletely fixed of that problem IMO), he;s got everything else you want in a CF. Good speed, the ability to take a pitch when merited, superior defense compared to the other internal options (at least among the ones with some offensive pop),... and you can't beat the price on his potential ML salary.

    If Jackson doesn't work out,... you still got DeJesus/Sappelt/Campana you can mix & match. And you get to keep that draft pick.

  • I used to be in favor of signing Bourn but that was before the new pitchers were signed. I'd rather keep out 2nd round pick and see if someone could win it this spring. Maybe Lake could handle it until Jackson proves he's fixed his swing.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I agree, though I would like the Cubs to upgrade CF defense somehow.

  • Lake has never played the outfield in the Cubs' system.

  • I think that will change this year and certainly by 2014, when I expect Lake to get his first real chance.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My point was that the Cubs are not going to start a player in CF on Opening Day 2013 who has never played the outfield.

  • Absolutely agree there. I'd be shocked if Lake made the opening day roster at any position.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    DeJesus in CF on Opening Day

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Probably, but I think that's a weakness defensively.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm ok with DeJesus playing the shallow center at home, but on the road you may want someone else there.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Agreed, though I also have problem with him vs. lefties. I really like DeJesus a lot, but he's really looking more and more like a 4th OF'er now.

  • HOF will announce the new members next week.....hopefully, Biggio and Morris will make it.......

    Makes me think of players I watched and who should have be in the HOF and their time passed or their career cut short....

    Bo Jackson....this guy had it all...might have been one of the greatest outfielders of all time if not for his hip injury.

    Fred about a guy who banged into walls to make a catch.....hit for power when he had to...again, injuries cut his career short.

    Bobby Bonds....Barry's dad was a beast with the bat....and great speed.

    Dave Parker.....a great LH hitter....great arm.....pure power.

    Ted Simmons....was in the era of Johnny Bench....this guy could hit and throw out runners.

    Alan Trammell ......why isn't this guy in the HOF?....if he was a Yankee, he would be!

    Dave Concepcion....if Larkin is in the HOF, Dave should be also in...part of that Red machine in the 70's....smooth fielder, played his position very well.

    Ron Guidry.......injuries hurt him, but when he was on, he was one of the best pitchers in MLB.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Bo Jackson could have been a beast,... a bit too many Ks,... but you are right on the mark with him otherwise. But with what,... 5-6 full seasons in the bigs,... and a couple of partial seasons after the hip replacement slowed him down - not enough longevity to get him into the HOF. He was fun to watch though.

    Agree completely with you on Trammell,... Have never understood how it is he isn't in the HOF. His last several years were marred by lots of time off the field and in various rehabs,... but there was pretty much nobody better at his position in his prime.

  • No "rebirth" with Bourn! Don't break the plan. Don't lose the long term goals! Keep the 2nd round pick!

  • I voted "No". I've yet to hear a compelling argument as to why we should sign Bourn that doesn't rely on assumptions and best case scenarios. Too much risk and too little upside, IMO.

    Having said that, I trust the FO to do what they think is best so if they do sign him, I'll hope for the best.

    I don't care about D DeJesus, but if Kim DeJesus leaves Chicago, I'll cut myself......

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Ha! You and Fels will be in mourning. Maybe should wear a KDJ patch on your sleeves at all times.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    The upside to signing Bourn would be that he would instantly become the best defensive Major League center fielder on the roster and the Cubs' best lead-off option. The risks have been stated.

  • I don't disagree with that Raymond. But the reward just doesn't justify the risk IMO. Having said that, I've shared one source with John that heard they've been talking to him. Also Brett Taylor had some interesting tidbits tonight from a radio interview Theo did in Boston. He didn't specifically mention Bourn, he just said don't be "Dogmatic" about giving up that #2 pick....... Read into that what you will.

    I wouldn't be upset if they did sign him. I just trust they know what they're doing and it will turn out well for the team. But from my perspective, I don't have a clue how they do that.

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    I wish Theo would make a deal so we have something with more meat to discuss. Doesn't he think about Cub fans at all?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    There simply are not enough pieces in the minors. That's why many of the posters here have stated that the Cubs will most likely not sign Bourn.

    To be able to have deals with meats we need pieces to be able to move. Any move for any player of substance would drain our already weak minors system.

    It's going to be 2 or 3 more years minimum. It's a good process and the Cubs have the resources to make it work. Would you sacrifice 2 or 3 years for 7 or 10 years of playoff baseball?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That Theo can be such an insensitive guy, leaving us all waiting for the next move :) I'm ready for a new signing, even if it's a role player.

  • I would like to jump in on the "No thanks" to Michael Bourn. As many have said, too much risk and not enough reward. Personally, I'd like to see all of Boras' clients sit until June or so and drag his silly butt down a bit. I understand the need to play nice with agents and all but it seems like this guy controls way too much in this great game. I'm all in favor of having BJax controlling CF and his retooled swing making better contact.

  • fb_avatar

    One thing that really is important here is where trade talks are and who is on the other side. For example, if Soriano for Dom Brown is a realistic possibility, that changes the equation some. Olt could also be a solution in left if, miracle of miracles, Ian Stewart can hit again.

    Which leads to another point: Stewart's performance is not unimportant here. If Stewart hits, the front office may start looking at Baez as a left fielder -- which again changes the math some.

    Also -- as John mentions above -- the front office's thinking on Jackson is key. If they think he's this year's Rizzo, they may be more than happy with a DDJ to simply hold the fort for a month or two until Jackson is ready. We'll also get an idea pretty quick whether or not the new swing makes him a viable option in left field.

    Given what they did with the pitching staff, I'd be shocked if they aren't looking to upgrade the outfield sooner rather than later, but they may be looking for more information first. (Any way you slice it, though, Bourne doesn't make a lot of sense as a stopgap -- you only sign him if you think he's the best long term solution at center.)

  • The draft pick is a deal breaker for me. The Cubs should look elsewhere or roll with the combination plate of OF mediocrity already on the roster.

  • In reply to Eddie:


  • I can give you a few reasons to not give up a 2nd round pick but I am only going to give you 2 for now. Their names are Kevin Davis and Robert Tyler. Two pitchers with very good promise and will likely be available in the 2nd round. I have others but I am working on something for BLF.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Thank Kevin!

  • 2 choices Bourn and Garza to 3 yr contracts or trade Garza for
    best prospects and keep 2nd pick. I'm glad we have new
    management to figure this out

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    We likley don't have that choice at all. Why would Garza sign a 3-year contract? Why would he sign ANY contract right now? If I am his agent, I would advise him to get healthy, then test Free Agency. There is no reason a healthy Garza can't get more than Anibal Sanchez; i.e., at least $85 mil.

    I don't know why everyone thinks Garza is signable to an extension right now.

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    Minor notes: Per Baseball America, Cubs have re-signed Jaye Chapman and Zach Putnam to minor-league contracts with NRI to Spring Training.

    I was wondering what happened to those guys; they are back

  • In reply to Zonk:

    They elected free agency at the end of Nov when they were taken off the 40 man roster.....I believe Theo did a great sales pitch to resign doubt this pitching roster will see many changes in 2013 with trades and DL stints.....

    Chapman might break ST with the team...he has a real good shot....

    Let me make this one note about or pitching staff...we have a few arms on this pitching staff that could break down quickly....Garza, Baker, Villanueva, Feldman, innings will be counted on a few of these guys......that is why we need all the pitchers we can get......Cabrera, Vizcaino, McNutt and Rusin could really help us in the second half.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Thank you Zonk! I was expecting it to happen but forgot to check BA (which is weird because I read it all the time).

    Like having the depth in the bullpen.

  • I' d be shocked, and appalled frankly if the Cubs are anywhere near Bourn. Four years 68 million. Seattle. Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and 2 mid level prospects to Miami for Stanton. Seattle wins 89 games in 2013.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I like those moves for them.

  • I agree that Garza is not likely to sign a contract extension for the amount the Cubs would offer while his health is in doubt. For that reason, the best thing for the Cubs to do would be to wait until July and see if they can get something substantially better than a second round pick, and if not, then keep him until the season is over and give him a qualifying offer. Since they would NOT lose their second round pick if they re-signed him, they may be able to offer more than other teams would at that time.

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    In reply to DaveP:

    Cubs would qualify for a sandwich 1st Round pick if they tender Garza, not a 2nd rounder. But point taken.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Hey, I hadn't thought of this ripple effect of the new system. I'm one who who like to re-sign Garza (if he proves healthy) but didn't see a very good path to that. But we do have some leverage from July onwards. If offers aren't great at the deadline, there might be a window to extend. He'd be on his way to FA, but we could mention that we'll be giving a qualifying offer. That lowers his FA value substantially, as we are starting to see this offseason. A negotiating window to extend him - it would probably have to be for 4 or 5 years - before he hits FA. Still would be expensive, but in theory slightly less than if he went to FA with that loss of a draft pick hanging over teams that try to sign him. And if he took the high, one year qualifying offer, no problem.

  • The only problem I see is the draft pick. Well, the length of contract, too.

    The front office has put a priority on assets. A 2nd round pick and potential value at that pick outweighs a CF, who has the biggest asset of speed on their side. Bourn will lose his asset with age. A draft pick can continue to build value.

    I think the pick is too valuable and needed to build up a stockpile of assets to trade for needed pieces. If the team wants to make a run for a David Price, they will need high drafts picks to re-stock the system so they can trade higher level guys.

    I think the team is in a great position to take their time and do it the right way--build the system. The FA signings need to be like they are going--flip guys. There are no huge pieces out there this year or next year really. I am not sure about FA after 2014.

  • In reply to AUBWDE:

    Well said, I agree on all counts here.

  • I don't like te idea of signing Bourn. I don't want to loose that draft pick and rely on trading Bourn later to make up for it!!! What about signing Nyjer Morgan cheep till Jackson is ready? He is not Bourn, but will give the Cubs in a round about manner the same thing and save the pick and money. Thoughts???

  • In reply to Jer Bear:

    I hear you Jer Bear! I'd like Morgan much better if he hit RH because it looks like the Cubs are going with Schierholtz in RF, so need someone to rest DeJesus against tough lefties.

  • I also think how the trade goes this year will determine what trades will be made next off season.

  • I have said to sign Bourne on another thread, and my reason is still the same. I want our pitchers, who we are intending to flip, Garza, Baker and I think Wood, to have the best defense behind them. The numbers they put up will affect what we get back for them. I want the best defense possible and think Bourne would get us through his defense more in trades for them than we are getting in the pick we lose. But no one has hired me to be a GM yet so I could be wrong:)

  • In reply to cbbiefun2014:

    That's actually one of my favorite arguments for signing him, but it's still not quite enough for me :)

  • I think the Bourn signing would be much more likely if Jim Hendry were the GM.

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