How Mets Can Sign Michael Bourn and Not Lose First-round Pick

There is one sure-fire way for the Mets to sign Michael Bourn and not lose their first-round, 11th pick overall in the 2013 draft. And it has nothing to do with getting MLB to grant a rules exception or amendment to the collective bargaining agreement.

It’s so simple it’s scary: sign Michael Bourn on June 9th.

The 2013 amateur draft occurs from June 6 to June 8. If Bourn is signed after the draft, then the Mets don’t have to give up their #1 pick — the pick would have been already made. From what I understand, there is nothing in the CBA that would cause the Mets to lose any future pick (such as in 2014).

Here is the language from the CBA that makes this possible:

Article XX — Reserve System
B.
(4) Compensation
(a) AQualified Free Agent shall be subject to compensation only if: (i) his former Club tenders him a Qualifying Offer pursuant to paragraph (3) of this Section B; (ii) the Player declines the Qualifying Offer or signs a contract with another Major League Club prior to the expiration of the acceptance Period; and (iii) the Player signs a Major League contract with another Major League Club that is confirmed by the Players Association and the LRD before the next succeeding Major League Rule 4 Draft (“Rule 4 Draft”).

Emphasis mine. The “next succeeding Major League Rule 4 Draft” in this case is the upcoming June 2013 draft.

Why would the Mets do it? If they’re serious about signing Bourn as part of their long-term plan, then it’s assumed the contract would be for at least three — if not five — years. Over a 3-5 year period, two and a half months aren’t a big deal. So what if the Mets don’t have Bourn for April, May, and the first week of June in 2013? They’re targeting success for 2015 and beyond.

Why would Bourn do it? Easy – because that may be the only way he gets his long-term deal. If he has the security of a 3-5 year contract, why should he care one way or another if he sits out April and May? It’s all about the Benjamins.

What do you think about this option? Does it make sense? Would you do it, if you were the Mets? If you were Michael Bourn? Why or why not?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Izzy February 4, 2013 at 10:06 am
    A nice idea, but if he doesn’t care about playing time he might as well wait until a good team has an injury and then signs with them and has a chance to play in the WS.
    • Joe Janish February 4, 2013 at 10:33 am
      Well, yeah, but for the fans sitting on the blue and orange planet known as “Metsworld,” it’s a pipe dream to which they can hitch their wagon. Because, you know, the Mets have plenty more money to spend this year, and have all that flexibility coming in 2014, so there’s a good chance they can be the highest bidder for Bourn’s services!
    • Joe D. February 4, 2013 at 11:35 am
      Izzy – I don’t get you at all. I can’t figure you out. Why do you leave relevant comments everywhere, but spend all your time on MMO leaving a dozen vicious comments toward other readers every week with no real commentary on the topic?

      It’s obvious, from the 7-8 years I’ve known of you that you have a complex and deep understanding of the game, but I just don’t understand why you don’t show that side of you on MMO.

      • Joe February 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm
        Needs some place to vent Angry Izzy?
      • Izzy February 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm
        No offense to you Mr D because your articles are like Mr J’s sometimes supportive sometimes not,of Met activities but here the discussion is fair and biased both ways and everyone gets their shot at their couch potato opinions. On your site, the few remaining fans who want the Mets to win are berated and belittled by hordes of non fans who are truly in love with Sandy Alderson. Or they are on the Met PR staff. Either way they don’t express real baseball opinions. They express the BS that comes from Met HQ. Sandy is perfect and the fact that the Mets suck is irrelevant. The true fans like Bayonne and 68 can’t post without getting pissed because of the missives of venom from the PR dudes. So watching those guys, why bother trying. They try and you ban them for getting rightfully pissed off. They unlike the others actually love the Mets and want wins, which you do to. So if i post serious Met stuff, what will happen. a ton of venom from the staff. You know its so.
  2. Marc February 4, 2013 at 10:39 am
    Clever but, not going to happen. Assuming he gets $15 million per season he’s not giving up $5 million of it to sign that late (He’d be missing approx 1/3 of the season). He’s probably going to get an opt out clause after the first season (Boras loves this).
    • Tommy2cat February 4, 2013 at 11:04 am
      Joe – you’re an evil genius. Did you ever work for Scott Boras? :D

      Marc – We’re dealing with numbers that can be agreed upon between both parties. The Mets and Boras can agree to anything they want. He can still get 15m for the first year, or defer some $$$ once Johan comes off the books… whatever…

      I’ll go so far as to integrate Joe’s idea into a greater plan, which is to active Bourn, d’Arnaud & Wheeler on the SAME DAY!!!

      MOOO-HAAA-HAAAA

      HA-HA-HA-HA-haa-haaa-haaaaa

      HHHAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

  3. AV February 4, 2013 at 11:30 am
    The only drawback would be if an All-Star OF for some team (especially a team projected to be a contender) goes down to a season-ending injury in Spring Training or in April, they could make an excessive offer of 1-year/$20 million (or something obscene like that) before June 9th. Bourn would jump on that offer in a heartbeat.
    • Tommy2cat February 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm
      I think any reasonable baseball mind would conclude that the Mets are ascending, so I think Bourn would sit tight if the price is right.

      I like what Sandy’s doing with the bullpen, given his available options. If he’s able to secure Brandon Lyon, I would not consider our bullpen a deficiency.

      Rotation Candidates: Santana, Harvey, Niese, Marcum, Gee (Hefner, Mejia, Wheeler after May 1…)

      Bullpen Candidates: Francisco, Lyon, Parnell, Burke, Ramirez, Familia, Mejia, Hawkins, Edgin, Carson, Feliciano, Hefner

      Projected Line-up:

      cf- Bourn
      2b – Murphy
      3b – Wright
      1b – Davis
      c – d’Arnaud
      lf – Duda
      rf – Brown/Baxter
      ss – Tejada

      Bench: Buck, Turner, Hicks, Valdespin, Baxter, Kirk, etc…

      Notes:

      1. Brown gets nod in RF – outstanding fielder and genuine power bat.

      2. Removing Bay and Torres from the outfield is addition by subtraction.

      3. Bourn’s addition, combined with a bounce-back by Duda & Brown/Baxter platoon could be an effective interim solution until 2014 FA market opens up.

      4. Provided he remains healthy, Marcum’s addition will substantially off-set the loss of RA Dickey, while the addition of d’Arnaud & Wheeler provides top rate talent for years to come.

      This team is getting stronger.

      • Joe February 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm
        No no no. You are just part of the “pipe dream” brigade.

        They will stink for five more years at least, the Bay/Santana money will be pocketed, Alderson is a liar and shill and all is dark in the world. Really, get with the program!

        • Tommy2cat February 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm
          Apart from Bourn & Lyon, the roster above is a reality.

          I am sorry that you have such a dour outlook, but it sounds like something two weeks in Bermuda could cure. :D

          Frankly, I think MLB should interpret the existing rule to allow the ten teams slotted for the top ten picks to remain protected, notwithstanding the intrusion of another team due to its decision, inability or failure to sign a top pick the previous year.

          Joe has identified a perfectly viable loophole, but I don’t think that what “The Framers” intended, now is it. Must we be contortionists to secure what is rightfully ours, predicated on last year’s record of futility?

        • Joe February 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm
          My post was satirical.
        • Tommy2cat February 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm
          Here’s some videos of Andrew Brown, which should brighten your day:

          http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/search/media.jsp?player_id=518500

          And here’s his stats from the Baseball Cube – the dude’s hit nearly 50 homers in his last 2 years of professional baseball, can field his outfield position and has a cannon for an arm, AND he can also play first base:

          http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?P=Andrew-Brown-2

          Have a nice day!

  4. Dan G. February 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm
    There have been some things I’ve read about signing Bourn to a Minor league deal and they can avoid giving up the draft pick.

    Is that true? And if so, is it something Boras and Bourn would consider to get him the long term deal he is looking for? From what I understand about Minor league deals, the money is not guaranteed, but is there a way to write in a clause that would guarantee him that money? If possible, it seems like the easiest and most sensible way to circumvent the 1st round pick issue and would be a win win for both sides

    • Joe Janish February 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm
      According to Article XX — Reserve System B. Free Agency (4) Compensation (a)(iii):

      “A Qualified Free Agent who signs a bona fide Minor League contract shall not be subject to compensation irrespective of whether the Minor League contract is subsequently assigned to the Major League Club provided that the execution of the Minor League contract and the
      subsequent assignment were not the product of an agreement or understanding designed to circumvent Article XX(B)(3) and (4).”

      It would seem to me that signing Bourn to a minor-league deal would be designed to circumvent the system.

      I guess that stipulation is in there in the event that, say, Kyle Lohse is diagnosed with a UCL tear after rejecting his qualifying offer and needs TJ surgery. I can’t think of another reason that a player offered $13M by one team would wind up with a minor-league contract from another.

      • Andy February 4, 2013 at 7:43 pm
        It could be bona fide. It’s possible that because of what’s going on in the market Bourn believes in good faith he can’t get his market value right now, but he could after June 9. So he could sign a minor league contract that explicitly calls for his release at any time on his request on or after June 9.

        The benefit from Bourn’s perspective would be the opportunity to get playing time and bide his time until a playoff contender suffers an injury in June/July and needs a replacement center fielder. The benefit to the Mets obviously would be getting an outfielder better than any other in the organization for 1/3 of the season. They may hope for an “inside track” to sign Bourn after June 9 but it’s unlikely they would actually get that opportunity.

      • TexasGusCC February 5, 2013 at 3:18 am
        Joe, I love it! Give him a $15MM minor league contract. Bourn can figure out for himself if he will be on the team with that money figure. This is competition on the highest level, and although there will be an uproar, so what? They wrote defective rules that have a loophole, oh well, sorry. Bourn will make them better and losing their spot as a protected pick because the Pirates didn’t sign Appel is BS, and not the Mets’ fault. This rule was meant to protect the worst ten teams. In this case, we truly have one of the league’s ten worst teams! For sure!

        In a hypocritical way, I am glad that the Pirates drafted Appel, as Boras was hoping he would fall to Boston or the Yankees and he’d get the moon. But, when it hurts my team…I yell louder than Chris Russo used to. But seriously, drafted players are meant to be signed, otherwise, why draft them? In which other league can you not sign your draft pick and get an extra do over next year?

  5. Andy February 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm
    Well, what if he were signed to a minor league deal, with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge to the effect that if he is healthy on June 9 the Mets will sign him to a long-term deal?
  6. dan February 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm
    I know Boras had thrown out the idea of a sign and trade involving a team with a protected top 10 pick, but the thought was mlb would consider it collusion. Would the Mets be permitted to work out a sign and trade directly with the Braves? Obviously if Bourn remains unsigned as we get closer to the start of the season the more leverage we will have.
  7. Dan B February 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm
    The ironic part of this whole argument is that we are all assuming the Mets would sign that number one pick. As I have pointed out before on this blog, since Alderson has been GM, the Mets have one of the worst records of signing draft picks, especially high draft picks. (though, admittedly, he has signed his first round picks) The idea that they would also lose the slot money is also irrelevant because the Mets left slot money on the table last year. By the way, I don’t think the Mets will have significant money to sign free agents until after June of 2014. This smells of distraction by the Mets from the reality that the Wilpons are not in the position to invest in winning baseball for quite some time.
    • DaveSchneck February 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm
      Dan,
      Your point about signing the top pick is excellent, although I don’t agree totally. The Wilpons now have plenty of dough, don’t let them fool you. However, I am not impressed with this regime’s drafting. Last year, the took a “safe” #1 pick, a guy they could sign “underslot”, and failed to sign their #2 pick over pocket change. With this mentality, they passed on Courtney Hawkins, who just happens to be a big RH power OF bat, already ranked #68 in MLB top 100. Now, time will tell who the better player is, but the point is that the talk about “the system” is not exactly being backed up with the wallet and drafting style.
      • Dan B February 4, 2013 at 11:25 pm
        When you compare how the Braves draft and how the Mets draft, it is obvious why one team has been consistently better. The Braves don’t always spend money properly on the big league level (Derek Lowe 4 yr/$60 million?) but they draft better and sign more of the players they draft, especially their top picks. If the Mets would sign at least half the players they draft, may be they would have enough prospects to trade for an Upton.