Michael Bourn Signs with Indians

The Bourn Ultimatum story ends in Cleveland.

According to various sources, free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn has agreed to a four-year, $48M deal with the Cleveland Indians.

I suppose we don’t need to worry about the protective status of the Mets’ #1 pick in this June’s draft. Unless, of course, the Mets decide to go after pitcher Kyle Lohse.

Surprised that Bourn chose Cleveland? Sure. Surprised that a Scott Boras client signed with a surprise club? Heck no.

The Indians already signed Nick Swisher this winter, and made a trade with the Reds for speedy center fielder Drew Stubbs. The two moves seemed to complete a Cleveland outfield that was returning Michael Brantley and part-timer (and former Met minor leaguer) Ezequiel Carrera. Adding Bourn to the mix would seem to create a surplus, though there is speculation that Swisher could move to 1B — a position seemingly slotted for yet another offseason acquisition, slugger Mark Reynolds.

Did the Mets’ late entry into the Bourn sweepstakes help Boras up his client’s price? Were the Mets used as leverage in the negotiations? Hard to say, but it does seem possible. Oh well, it was fun to read about Bourn’s availability, and the Mets’ interest, and their controversial 11th pick in the draft, every single day throughout the Mets blogosphere over the past three weeks. Right?

If in fact the Indians keep Swisher in an outfield corner, maybe this signing leads them to deal Stubbs — who could very well be a better option for the Mets at this point in New York’s rebuilding process. Stubbs is about as fast if not faster than Bourn, plays nearly as good on defense, has more power, hits from the right side, is two years younger, and a heckuva lot less expensive. On the negative side, Stubbs strikes out more often than Bourn — quite a feat — and has shown abysmal on-base ability, so he doesn’t profile as a leadoff hitter.

So, have at it in the comments. Are you sad that Bourn won’t be a Met, or believe it’s the best thing to happen? Do you think the Indians will make Stubbs available, and if so, should the Mets try to get him?

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. DaveSchneck February 11, 2013 at 10:55 pm
    rn would definitely improved the team and beyond this season, but I am surprised that the Mets went the reported 4/$48 mil. The bottom line is that the Mets were bridesmaids once again, and Alderson will take some deserved heat on this, not having petitioned MLB earlier. They wanted the player, the player wanted them, but the strategy failed. Time will tell if it is a blessing or not. It is time for plan B, or was it plan D? I hope it is Valdespin as leadoff barring an acquisition. Why not?
    • Izzy February 11, 2013 at 11:39 pm
      Sounds like that Ivy Leaguegenius got outsmarted by some average brained guy running the Indians. Well, Alderson has failed again. Someday the Mets will be good, but as was written many years ago “mighty Casey struck out.”
    • Joe Janish February 12, 2013 at 1:59 am
      Valdespin at leadoff? Not sure I like that idea. If he was half as good as he believes he is, maybe. But the reality is that he’s probably not disciplined enough to be a leadoff guy, and though he has above-average speed, his baserunning is atrocious. His career OBP in the minors is .330, which is likely to drop a few points in the bigs. Even if he holds at .330, that’s barely adequate for a leadoff hitter — assuming he brings something else to the table, such as above-average power or stolen-base prowess. He MIGHT flash slightly above-average power; my best guess is he could hit 10-15 HR in 600 PAs. In the minors, he stole 94 bases but was caught stealing an unbelievable 50 times (65% success rate) — that’s awful. If ‘spin leads off in ’13, it will be like a flashback to the early 90s, with Daryl Boston leading off for the Mets.

      Sorry for being so harsh, but I just don’t see Valdespin as anything other than a bench guy. He’s too erratic and his attitude would be an issue if he was a better player than he is; the fact he’s marginal makes his attitude intolerable. The only reason he’s as advanced in his career as he is is because the Mets’ minor league system has very little else to offer.

      • DaveSchneck February 12, 2013 at 9:18 am
        Joe,
        You are being very harsh, and also very accurate. Valdespin is a huge risk, and that is before addressing his attitude, which supposedly isn’t the best. However, need creates interesting bedfellows. This team has no leadoff hitter, despite the damage control comments that Alderson or Collins or anyone will make. Bourn’s value can be debated, and whether the Mets should have been more aggressive or not can be debated, but what can’t be debated is that so far, Alderson has failed 100% in providing this team a bonafide leadoff hitter. Spin is the only internal candidate that has the skills (potential) to handle this role. And he is now at that make or break age, an age where you either start to grow up and get it or you find yourself on trhe outside looking in. I would tell him that I want to see a 36% OBP in sring training, minimum, because he is aditioning for the leadoff spot barring any moves. We all know these island kids need to hit their way to the bigs, and I can’t blame them, but once there those without big power need to adjust. No disrespect to Cowgill or Tejada or Baxter, I’d rather role the dice on a guy with more raw skills to set the table.
  2. Matt Himelfarb February 11, 2013 at 11:02 pm
    Not really a fan of Stubbs. He’s probably not any better than Nieuwenhuis/Cowgill, and he’ll cost about $2.5 million in 2013. With that $, they could’ve just signed Hairston.
    • Joe Janish February 12, 2013 at 1:36 am
      I’m not a big fan of Stubbs, either, but you don’t think he’s better than Nieuwenhuis or Cowgill? Really? Stubbs’ raw skill set is beyond both those players combined, and he’s already hit 20+ HR in a MLB season.

      Five or six years ago, I wouldn’t be as impressed with Stubbs. But with the way homerun power has become such a rarity in the PEDs-testing era, his value has increased. He’s a better fielder than Kirk or Cowgill, has more raw speed, and has the bonus of homerun potential. In my mind it’s not even a contest. But, I also see Kirk as the next Jeremy Reed, and Cowgill as a righthanded Joe Orsulak.

      • Matt Himelfarb February 12, 2013 at 2:50 am
        Because for the last two seasons, Stubbs has just been a really, really bad hitter. Keep in mind, his HR totals are also inflated by playing in Cincy. And Kirk has shown just as much HR power as well.

        Right now, Kirk’s floor (offensively) is probably Stubbs- that is, a bad hitter with moderate HR power that strikes out a ton. At the very least, however, we can hold out hope that Kirk can make some adjustments and improve his offense.

        Granted, Stubbs is a better fielder than Nieuwenhuis. Stubbs is no Bourne/Peter Bourjos, but he is a major league center fielder. Does Nieuwenhuis have enough range to hold his own in center? I really don’t know.

        • Joe Janish February 12, 2013 at 12:14 pm
          If Stubbs is Kirk’s floor then I get your reasoning. That’s where we disagree, as I see Stubbs as Kirk’s ceiling. I may also value speed and defense more than you do.

          Also, Stubbs 2012 stats may have been affected by his oblique injury.

        • Matt Himelfarb February 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm
          Joe, do you think Kirk is a big league center fielder? I don’t mean that rhetorically. I’m genuinely curious what your take is.
        • Joe Janish February 13, 2013 at 12:06 am
          I think he’s somewhere between Jeremy Reed and Reed Johnson. He reminds me a LOT of Jeremy Reed when Reed was in the White Sox organization and, later, first came up with the Mariners. So … maybe? Not an All-Star, but perhaps an adequate starter. I think he might hit with a little more power than Reed, though Reed showed fairly similar power numbers at similar ages.
  3. Dave February 11, 2013 at 11:54 pm
    I wish the Mets got Bourn….it probably would not have brought them a championship, but it absolutely would have made them that much better as a team overall. I’m so frustrated and despondent right now.
    • Joe Janish February 12, 2013 at 1:36 am
      Don’t fret — even without Bourn, the Mets have fourth place locked up.
  4. jerseymet February 12, 2013 at 12:05 am
    Anderson’s pursuit of Bourn was a bit of a red herring. Seeking the waiver from baseball was not realistic. It may have been a put up for the fans. Bourn did not seem a good fit. I’m glad that it did not happen.
    • Joe Janish February 12, 2013 at 1:42 am
      I have to agree with you — I really wonder how much of this Bourn chase was less about improving the team and more about showing the fans that the Mets are “serious” about spending money and going after top players (hmm … when has that happened before?). Further, despite Bourn’s supposed comment that the Mets were his “first choice,” was there ever really a chance of him signing with them? Or was it a mutual agreement to help both parties? For Bourn, to up his ante and increase negotiating leverage with other clubs. For the Mets, to make a public show of them going after a legitimate All-Star in a winter of discontent.
  5. NormE February 12, 2013 at 12:48 am
    What I would have liked about signing Bourn was that it might have given the Mets a trading chip down the road, but
    I’m just glad that this is over. Now let’s find out what the Mets have with Cowgill, Capt. Kirk and MDD. Unless, that is, Alderson has another move up his unraveling sleeve.
  6. Dan B February 12, 2013 at 8:04 am
    Remember when some of us were bashing Alderson for not improving the outfield and we were told to wait because there was plenty of players and time left? Will those people please let the rest of us know when there is no more players and time left so we can start bashing Alderson using our smug “we told you so” attitude? Thanks.
    • Izzy February 12, 2013 at 8:56 am
      Hey guys, I hear that Alderson is really excited now because he has targeted for that most important draft pick in baseball history……. Henry Aaaron!!! Seriously, a very pathetic and badly paid move by a guy who acts like he’s smarter than eveeryone. Pathetic because he has no decent outfielders on the roster and no solid centerfielders and no lead off hitters on the horizon. Pathetic because if one looks at the outfield market this Winter, Bourn turned out to be the best deal and Cleveland got him not NY! Pagan at 10 mil ayear, not nearly as good a player, Victorino at 13 million a year had a horrible season last year and even at his best he’s not a better player, Upton at about 15 mil a year, more power but an under achiever. 12 mil for Bourn in 2013 is a good deal, and even thise who whine about aging it ends at about 35, not 40 or so. Also bad because Alderson let the hopes go public, got Met fans a little enthused and then spit in their faces because he wouldn’t even have the guts to test this draft ruling ahead of time! Adn what’s the other message, wait another 5 years until this awesomeest pick ever is ready for the bigs. This is Alderson’s worst week ever in New York. He doesn’t even get an F. An F- at best.
      • Dan B February 12, 2013 at 9:16 am
        Izzy, you forgot to mention Alderson’s history of not signing draft picks and drafting players he can sign for under slot. It is like he handicaps himself 5 spots (taking a player at #11 who should go at 15 to save money). You add not trading free agents who are leaving for prospects and you have one of the worst run farm systems. It is no wonder nobody wants our AAA team and they have to play in Vegas. If the Mets didn’t get lucky with Dickey the farm system would be the most embarrassing one in the league. Three years of rebuilding gives us this?
        • MikeT February 12, 2013 at 11:36 am
          This is just ignorant of the MLB drafting rules. Per the new Collective Bargaining Agreement teams have hard slots, a set budget, and limitations in the draft. If Alderson saves money in the first round by signing a guy for less than slot, then he is able to spend that money in other rounds. Anyone who gets mad at the idea that the MEts did not sign Bourn because they did not want to lose the draft pick are ignorant to the fact that if they lose that pick, they ALSO lose the money associated with that slot. This is by far the MOST important thing about losing the pick. Especially since the first round has the largest amount of money associated with that pick.

          How do the Mets have one of the worst run farm systems? Based on rankings that have come out this offseason from various sources you can put them at no worse than top 15, which is the top half of the league. They have gone from bottom three to top 15 in three seasons, a gargantuan feet.

        • Joe Janish February 12, 2013 at 12:08 pm
          Here’s a twist on that logic: in the draft, the Mets have a hard limit on what they can spend and on whom it can be spent. In free agency, what they spend is virtually unlimited, and the market of players is more open – and they are proven players. Add to that, the Mets draftees know exactly how much the Mets can spend in total, and they have severely limited options — no options at all if they are college seniors. Considering all those factors, it could be argued that dollars are better spent on the FA.

          Just throwing it out there for discussion.

        • MikeT February 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm
          I actually agree Joe. I thought that Bourn was a good signing even if it cost the pick. But I also trust Alderson and Co’s judgement. I think the real problem is MLBs hard slotting system. It is supposed to help FA, by putting more money into established players pockets and not bonuses to drafted players; however, because of the way it is structured the Mets, and others, clearly value the money associated with that slot pick more than what Bourn would provide on the field. MLB and the MLBPA need to redo this system yet again.
        • Joe Janish February 13, 2013 at 12:33 am
          Agreed, the CBA is horrible. But, it meets the needs of current players, and those are the ones who voted for it. They wanted the big bonus money given to amateurs redirected to their pockets. And the owners are thrilled with any opportunity to create a spending ceiling for talent. And it’s wonderful from Bud Selig’s perspective, because he has been pushing a socialistic system of parity / everyone is on equal footing.

          I don’t see a change happening, because too many people making the decisions are very satisfied with the current execution and they are making too much money to be motivated to change. Change only happens when there is ample displeasure.

        • Dan B February 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm
          Mike, you say if the Mets save money on one round they can use that money on the next round. What if he doesn’t spend that money in the next round? What if it just saved? That is what the Mets did in the last draft. The reason the Mets farm system moved up is because of the Beltran and Dickey trade, not because of their drafting and developement dispite their low draft picks. That is why I think the Mets have done a terrible job with their farm system.
      • DaveSchneck February 12, 2013 at 9:28 am
        Izzy,
        It is rare that I agree with you 100%, but in this case I can’t come to any other conclusion. AS Dan B. points out, technically there is still some “more time”, and my personal deadline is opening day, but the likelihood of a deal to get a bonafide leadoff hitter/CF is very low. Perhaps the can revisit Fowler, or Bourgos, but I can’t imagine the price in players to acquire one of these being less that losing the #11 pick. I think the Met interest was legit, but Alderson blew it big time on this one by not resolving the draft pick issue one way or the other earlier. Even if he was concerned that winning the appeal would cost leverage against Boras based on pressure from the fan base, this is his worst scenarioo possible – the Mets were the player’s first choice, the agreed on a deal, but waiting 2 weeks caused the player to (rightly) accept a different offer. My stance on Alderson has been give us a 2013 team without glaring holes liek the 2012 team, and right now the team has no leadoff hitter, no legit closer, and bad D at all 3 OF positions and 2B. That doesn’t cut it. Go sign Wilson today and figure out a way to pry a CF/leadoff hitter that can bring good D to the team for this year and beyond.
        • Joe Janish February 13, 2013 at 12:38 am
          Dave, you must have missed the news – the Mets already signed Mike Wilson.

          ;-)

        • DaveSchneck February 13, 2013 at 10:01 am
          Yeah, I heard Collins told him to start growing a beard ASAP, he’ll have a much better chance of making the team :-)
  7. Scott Mets Fan February 12, 2013 at 9:21 am
    As long as Baxter is relegated to AAA or a PH/defensive replacement role and not a platoon role, I’m ok with not getting Bourn. Kirk needs to be in RF, where he has a little pop (Baxter has very little pop) and is a plus defensive player (Kirk is league average at best in CF).
    CF then would be for Den Dekker or the Mets go get Tony Campana to platoon with Cowgil. If Kirk has to stay in center, give Valdespin a chance to platoon in right. He had a 380 obp in winter league and has a much higher ceiling than Baxter.
    I’m ok with giving Byrd or Brown the RH platoon spot in RF and sending Lutz to AAA to learn the OF and see if he can be a RH poor mans Alex Gordon (same height and weight,also converted to OF at 26 after spending entire career as 1B/3B).
    I also feel like, although it wouldn’t be ideal, that Den Dekker could produce anywhere from Drew Stubbs to Mike Cameron offensive numbers with excellent defense.
    Finally, having Den Dekker or Cowgil/Campana play CF with Kirk in RF makes a league average to below average defensive OF (Kirk/Cowgil, Baxter platoon,Duda in LF) into an above average defensive OF.
  8. mike B February 12, 2013 at 9:29 am
    FYI…
    http://deadspin.com/5914786/the-11th-pick-in-the-mlb-player-draft-is-cursed-according-to-science

    I was curious to see the history of the 11th pick because it was so dire we hold on to it even though we have no CF Speed leadoff ect ect ect.

    Turns out the best player picked 11th was Greg Luzinski. Yup that great.

    • Paul Festa February 12, 2013 at 2:23 pm
      Luzinski had a career .840 OPS and had a 162 game average of 31 HRs. Not bad for a cursed pick.
      • mike B February 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm
        Yeah I worded that incorrectly, I should have said he was one of the only guys drafted at 11 that went on to have a career better then bourn.

        But recently Justin Smoak, McCutchen, Max Scherzer all were picked 11th so maybe the luck is changing.

        Even though it isnt fun to give up a first rounder I would still rather have Bourn then the 11th pick.

  9. Paul Festa February 12, 2013 at 2:22 pm
    Bourn certainly would have been an upgrade, but it still wouldn’t have made the Mets better than the Braves or Nats. I prefer to continue to build up the minor league organization that was ravaged by Phillips and Minaya.
    • DaveSchneck February 12, 2013 at 3:46 pm
      Paul,
      We don’t know if adding Bourn would have made the Mets better than the Braves or Nats. The Mets have a starting staff that has the chance to be very good, and any team with a very food starting 5 has a chance, it’s why they play the games. Also, it is a little unfair to say Omar ravaged the minor league organization. Harvey, Ike, Tejada, Niese, and Murphy were all produced by his system, and Harvey, Ike, and Niese are currently part of the “cornerstones”. I wouldn’t give him a top grade but we do have to respect some long term contributions to the big club.
    • mike B February 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm
      Paul if the Mets were allowed to sign any one active MLB player they wouldnt be better then the Nats or Braves. I am all for building for the future but you wouldnt remodel a bathroom if you had a hole in your roof would you. The CF/leadoff spot would be the hole in the roof.

      Just because one signing doesnt make you a first place team does not mean you dont sign any players.

    • Dan B February 13, 2013 at 9:50 am
      Paul,how do you judge Alderson ‘s handling of the minors? Like Omar, Alderson has a bad record of not signing draft picks. Like Omar, Alderson has a bad record of drafting players he can sign under slot. Like Omar, Alderson doesn’t ttrade away players for draft picks (yes I know about Dickey and Beltran but there are so many he didn’t) . Makes me wonder if it is the GMs or the GMs doing what the owners foolishly want.
  10. argonbunnies February 12, 2013 at 4:43 pm
    We’re not sold on Nieuwenhuis… because he might turn out to be Drew Stubbs.

    Why would we want to add a guy who we know is Drew Stubbs?

    • Joe Janish February 13, 2013 at 12:43 am
      I’m more afraid Kirk won’t become at least Drew Stubbs.

      And I’d be thrilled if Kirk suddenly had Stubbs’ foot speed and defensive prowess — then he’d have two legit above-average, plus MLB tools. At the moment he hasn’t displayed anything other than average defense.

      • argonbunnies February 13, 2013 at 12:59 am
        The only hope I have is that Kirk, after 300 PAs, has room to grow as a hitter beyond where Stubbs has wound up after 2000 PAs.

        If he doesn’t, then I don’t care who’s faster, I wouldn’t want either of them. Too many Ks.

        (I guess if Stubbs was ’99 Andruw in CF, that’d make a difference, but I haven’t heard anyone claim that.)

      • Kanehl February 14, 2013 at 12:41 am
        Last year, in 136 games at age 27, Stubbs’ OPS was .610. The year before, .685. Last year, at age 24 in his first MLB season, Neuwenheise had a .691 OPS in 91 games. Will he get better? Don’t know. But hard to see Stubbs as an upgrade. In any event, this is a bridge year to 2014 and beyond, once Wheeler and then Syndergaard hit the rotation. This year, let Duda, Neuweheiss and even Lutz (if he’s not Todd Hundley in the OF) play. 65 wins or 75…does it really matter?
        • Joe Janish February 14, 2013 at 1:39 am
          Stubbs spent most of 2012 playing with a strained oblique, which can adversely affect a baseball swing. Was that the reason Stubbs had such ugly offensive numbers? Maybe. Do you remember when Angel Pagan pulled his oblique in the spring of 2011? Remember the down year he had as a result? And how he rebounded last year?

          Further, I don’t use OPS as a singular measure of a player’s value — especially one who plays a “skill” position up the middle. In centerfield, defense is the #1 priority. No, I don’t want a fantastic-fielding centerfielder who hits under .200, but I do place significant value on defensive skill — and Stubbs is at Gold Glove level. I also value rare, unteachable skills such as foot speed. Speed never slumps and is used both offensively and defensively. Stubbs is one of the ten fastest men in baseball, maybe among the top five. Even if Stubbs doesn’t appreciably improve his hitting, he’s still an upgrade over what the Mets have right now. If you disagree then you are assuming Nieuwenhuis and/or Cowgill are going to do something they’ve never done before — play a full MLB season and perform better than Stubbs. That’s fair, and I’d like to hear what it is about those two that makes you think they will do that well (I’m not being a smarty pants, I’m genuinely interested, because I know very little about Cowgill and have not seen enough of Kirk to feel overly optimistic about him improving dramatically).

          The Mets are not in a position to trade away valuable minor-league chips for an established, “sure thing” centerfielder, and they lost out on Michael Bourn. In their current position, the Mets have to find “diamonds in the rough” and find value in players that others aren’t seeing. In most cases this is going to be a player who hasn’t been given a fair shot (like Cowgill) or a player coming off a down year (like Stubbs).

          I’m not suggesting that the Mets should dangle Zack Wheeler in front of Cleveland to get Stubbs. I’m only suggesting that it’s worth kicking the tires on him and seeing if he can be had for someone the Mets are comfortable parting with.

        • DaveSchneck February 14, 2013 at 10:27 am
          Joe,
          I couldn’t agree with you more about the defensive aspects of CF. I slightly disagree in that I think parting with a few prospects (not named Wheeler, Harvey, or D’Arnaud) for a CF/leadoff to help in 2013 and beyond is a requirement. We don’t know how aggressive or as Sandy likes to say “in the mix” the Mets were on Span, or if they have had dialogue about Fowler, but these guys fit the profile – CF/leadoffs, decent gloves, young enough, controllable for 3 seasons. Maybe the price is too high, who knows, but I can’t believe the Rockies wouldn’t consider a package like Kirk or Den Dekker, Lutz, and a Fulmer-type given their current state.
        • Kanehl February 14, 2013 at 3:12 pm
          Fair point about the oblique in 2012, but he didn’t hit in 2011 either. If we want a non-hitting glove in CF, might as well give the Den Decker a shot since everyone says he’s an amazing CF. If they get Stubbs without giving up any useable talent, OK, but he seems like a marginal bench guy at best (which, apparently, is what his current team thinks, since they just signed 2 starting OFs).
        • Joe Janish February 15, 2013 at 12:18 am
          If you see no value whatsoever in raw tools, and you believe that Den Dekker can hit at least as well as Stubbs, then OK. The way I look at it is this: 1) Den Dekker is unlikely to hit even as well (or poorly, depending on perspective) as Stubbs; 2) Den Dekker has one above-average MLB tool (fielding), while Stubbs has at least two (fielding, speed).

          Would you trade Lucas Duda straight up for Stubbs? Why or why not?

          I’m curious because they’re similar in age and share similar stories of not meeting expectations / fulfilling perceived potential thus far.

  11. Mic February 14, 2013 at 3:02 am
    39 comments about Michael Bourn. Not bad.
    In the end, I am not unhappy about this fiasco. I agree with the overall consensus that he was not worth more than a 3 year investment. If we were going to do that, I’d rather call the Jays and ask for Jose Reyes.