Wright: Bourn, Can We Buy You?
While the Mets engage in draft jujitsu with Major League Baseball over their eleventh round draft pick, and play a game of cat and mouse with Scott Boras, Wright contacted Bourn personally to lobby the center fielder to come to Flushing.
Wright talked, and exchanged text messages with, the speedy center fielder in an effort to sell him on the Mets.
“I just wanted to let him know that he would be a great addition here and he’d obviously be welcomed here,’’ Wright said after his first early workout at Port St. Lucie.
“I talked to him a couple weeks ago, and I told him, ‘You’re always in the right place at the right time, your work counts,’’’ Wright said. “I’ve always had great respect for him and the way he plays the game and have always kind of chatted with him when he gets to third base.”
Sandy Alderson sounded optimistic in his his guarded, close-to-the-vest Alderson way. “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.’’
Would the acquisition of Bourn help the Mets compete with the Nationals, Braves, and Phillies? It certainly doesn’t seem so on paper. But signing him to a long-term deal while the young arms come up to speed and the budget becomes more flexible? It would help.
Of all the Mets’ weaknesses, two of the most wanting are A) Outfield and B) Leadoff man. SS Ruben Tejada would make a great number two hitter, given the bat control we saw from him in 2012. He could be to the Mets what Elvis Andrus is to the Texas Rangers. But he’s not a leadoff man.
He worked out with Jose Reyes this winter to get some base stealing advice, but Ruben is certainly not a Reyes or a Bourn when it comes to swiping bags.
Bourn is 30 years old, and is not stealing at the rate he did when he was younger. Like Reyes, gone are the days when he could pile up 60 or more SBs in a season. But he did rack up 42 of them last year. The Mets would drool over base stealing like that. Plus Bourn’s gap-to-gap hitting makes him perfect for Citi Field. He’ll also upgrade their outfield defense (3.0 Baseball Reference dWAR last year).
What else does a leadoff man do? (Points at Jonah Hill) Gets on base. Since 2009, Bourn has averaged a .348 OBP. Not Rickey Henderson good, but about the same as Jose Reyes, and that will do just fine.
The questions remain about whether the Mets can sign Bourn without surrendering their first round draft pick (and whether they should worry about it), and if they can afford him. Bourn and Boras reportedly want 5 years, $57 million. I’m not sure what the Mets want, but it’s definitely not that.
The fact that Wright has been in contact with Bourn tells me the Mets are serious about this, however. It tells me the Mets – yes, the Mets – may actually sign a somewhat big-name free agent before all is said and done.