“Just give me 25 guys on the last year of their contracts; I’ll win a pennant every year” -Sparky Anderson, Former Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers Manager, Hall of Famer
Darren Dreifort, Chone Figgins, and Barry Zito. What do you think of every time you hear these names? Recipients of contracts that aren’t working out.
Every year we see it. It doesn’t matter the team, the position, the city, or even the probability of it. Every year, a major league baseball player, on the last year of his first deal or fresh out of arbitration cashes in because of a career-year the year before.
The list is long of players who hit the “career-year jackpot” but a look at some of the names almost makes you squirm.
Not to say that Michael Bourn will join those ranks, but what is Bourn’s value to a team looking for a game-changing center fielder with speed and the ability to get on-base to use it?
Most would consider that a no-brainer. If Juan Pierre is making between $9-10 million right now, Bourn is worth at least $12-13 million per, right? I would slot him in that area right now if i were a general manager, no problem. The problem lies in the length of the deal, which is where the economics of baseball gets most teams every time.
Bourn, currently an Atlanta Brave, is having an All-Star caliber season batting .323 with 3 home runs (two just last night against the Reds), 13 RBI’s, 13 steals, and a .376 OBP. He’s doing this for a Braves team currently leading the league in runs per game (he himself has scored 30 in 44 games) and who also currently own the third-best record in the National League.
Translation: yes, he’s important.
I’m a firm believer in getting what you can as long as you earned it the right way. Should Michael Bourn take the best deal offered for he and his family at the end of the season? Absolutely (and you can bet he will with Scott Boras as his agent). The point I bring up is should the Braves be the ball club to offer that contract to him? If it’s a three-year deal at $11-13 million per I say go for it. If Bourn wants longer than that (and rumor has it he may be looking for six or seven) then I wouldn’t be upset if the Braves decided not to.
Nothing personal, but a $36 million dollar investment in Michael Bourn, who turns 30 in December, on top of the $9 million dollar figure this year for me is sufficient considering a players prime is between the ages 27-31.
The Braves generally do a good job of spending wisely. In recent years Wren has made some gross over-payments (Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami), but has also made wise decisions in terms of not investing to quickly until everything plays out. While they could be looking at removing close to $50 million dollars in payroll (Lowe, Chipper, Hudson pending an option) and being active participants in the free agency I don’t know how Bourn fits in if he asks for such a large number of years.
My gut feeling tells me they will look to add someone of Bourn’s ilk who might be within their price range and go after a top-flight starting pitcher. While game changers like Bourn don’t come along often, they are a mindful of his age and his demands and may see fit to ride this year out and wave goodbye in the off-season.