Mets Lose Out on Bourn


Michael Bourn signed with the Cleveland Indians this afternoon after negotiations with the New York Mets could not be finalized. The Indians deal with Bourn is for 4 years and $48 million, with a 5th year $12 million option that automatically vests with 550 plate appearances in the fourth year. According to a MLB source, the Mets were definitely Bourn's first choice, and they had come to agreement on the years and dollars. Joel Sherman of the N.Y. Post indicated that two sources confirmed to him that the Mets offer was also for 4 years and $48 million, but contained no option. Another obstacle, according to the MLB source, was the fact that resolution of the Mets request for protection of their #11 draft pick would have taken 2 to 3 weeks. Mike Puma, a colleague of Sherman's, reports, however, that the two sides were down to ironing out small details, such as the hotel rooms in which Bourn would stay on road trips.

It is unclear, at this time, whether the deciding factor in Bourn's decision to sign with the Indians was the fifth year option, which Bourn would feel confident of vesting, or the delay on the draft pick compensation issue. There has been no confirmation by anyone as to whether the Mets would have insisted on waiting for the final resolution to come down before signing the deal with Bourn, but that seems unlikely, givin the level of details that were being discussed by the two sides. In any event, the Mets have lost out on the player that Tim Dierkes of mlbtraderumors.com ranked #3 among all free agents this year, an outstanding leadoff hitter and a Gold Glove center fielder.

I must confess that I am disappointed that Bourn will not be patrolling center field in Flushing this year. I believe that he fit the Mets' needs to a tee. But I am not sorry to lose him under these circumstances. I was strongly in favor of a 3 year deal, even at an average salary of $14 to $15 million. I was leery of offering the 4th year, however, and I think the 5th year option is definitely a bad deal, even though it is only for $12 million. Those last two years could become an albatross, as so many long term contracts do in their latter years. And now the Mets still have that coveted #11 pick and the slot money that goes with it.

So, where do the Mets go from here? Do they now stand pat, with Lucas Duda in left, a Nieuwenhuis/Cowgill platoon in center and Mike Baxter in right, supported by Andrew Brown or Marlon Byrd as their fifth outfielder? Will Matt den Dekker or Juan Lagares now get more serious consideration for a spot coming out of spring training? Or is Sandy Alderson already burning up the phone lines to find a trading partner willing to part with an outfielder that meets his specifications?

One possibility that might meet those specifications is Tony Campana of the Cubs, who was just designated for assignment yesterday. Campana, (call him Michael Bourn lite) who won't be 27 until next season is 2 months old, has been described as one of the five fastest ball players in the major leagues. In 357 major league plate appearances, Campana has a .262 avg. (10 points lower than Bourn's) and only a .306 OBP, but he has 54 stolen bases in 59 attempts. His minor league statistics are more encouraging, with a slash line of .301/.356/.350, indicating he may be overly anxious at the plate in an attempt to impress his manager and coaches at the major league level. If he can be taught to be more patient at the plate and raise his OBP to a more respectable level, he could make an excellent leadoff hitter, good for 50 or more SBs a season. Fleet afoot, he covers a lot of ground in center field, but his arm is not strong, which could be a drawback. Another factor is that he is a left handed hitter, something the Mets already have an overabundance of. The question is whether the advantages outweigh the drawbacks.

I'm interested in what you think the Mets should do now. Weigh in with comments.


Mack Ade said...

Boy, I'm glad this is over.

I'm planning on talking about this sometime tomorrow on an unfinished post I'm working on.

I'd like to stop the madness and play with deck of cards we have been dealt.

Let's see what we have. Frankly, Cowgill was quite the prospect back n the day and could be a pleasant surprise.

I also expect Duda to have a big year.

Will Kohane said...

What can the Mets do now but wait for the next opportunity to present itself. They were in on Upton, Bourn and probably one or two others, but it didn't work out. Sooner or later the right guy will become available and the Mets will have the right assets with which to make a deal. It may happen this spring or it may happen during the season. Or we may have to wait until next off season. But in any event the Mets are inching closer to being in a postion where one guy will have a huge impact: young Met pitchers are developing as we speak.

Unknown said...

Don't know how you could be ok with 3 years for 15 per million but not 4 for 48. The 4 year deal just means that you're getting Bourn for 1 year at 3 million! It's probably smart to be wary of the vesting option, but since it's based on plate appearances it seems to be that if it vest that means bourn is healthy, which means he's still got some of his speed. All in all I would've been happy if the Mets signed him for this. Honestly, this might push back our chances of competing a year. I thought with Bourn and some smart additions next offseason we could be a playoff team. Now in order to compete in 2014 we'll have to fill all 3 outfield spots in one offseason. Looking at the available FA that's going to be rough.

Matthew Silva said...

It is a shame that we had a chance to get some quality players this off season and nothing every really materialized. Always the bridesmaid never the bride.

Charles said...

I understand the let down here, but honestly, Bourn is not that good.

Also, of the 6/7 guys they have in camp now, I'm sure you could easily find a great platoon combo for next years team plus a bench guy or two. Filling out next years roster will not be that hard.

This off season they secured their franchise player and hopefully the catching position for years to come, while also getting a future ace into their system.

This was not a bad off season. Actually, it's the best since Sandy took over. It's just that people are sick of losing, which I get, but we must carry on.

We must find a way to endure these hard times.

We must keep our eye on the bigger picture and not simply beg for transactions just for the sake of instant gratification.

All I know is, they sure as shit can't pick anything other then the best player available come June. What this has caused, is every fan who never cared about the draft to start actually paying attention to it now. They'll have a lot of eyes on that eleventh pick this year.

Unknown said...

I mean I'm usually pretty optimistic but I wouldn't say it is a sure thing that we can find a strong platoon combo for the next few years out of this current mix. I'm very excited to see MDD play but who knows. Overall it was a good offseason for Sandy but Bourn would've been the icing on the cake. A lot of people say he's not that good because a lot of his value comes from his glove. But lets stop pretending defense doesn't matter, if it didn't then Duda would be a viable option.

Herb G said...

Finally, a moment to get back here add my two cents to the mix.

Mack, I'm glad the madness is over too, but not that happy with the result. I'd have loved to see Bourn added to the outfield. I agree that Duda could have a big year. (if he only sheds the self doubt and trusts his instincts) I also believe that a Kirk/Cowgill platoon, either in RF or CF, can be very effective. So, imo, there is still one missing link in the OF. I guess it is possible that Cowgill can show he is for real, and hold down a spot by himself. Also, it is possible that MDD scorches Vegas in the early going and gets the call in May. All in all, though, I'd like to see Alderson continue to work the phones and bring back one of the OFs we identified in the series we ran about a month ago.

Will, your patience is admirable. I could probably learn something from your example.

Unknown, I didn't say I wasn't OK with 4/$48, I said I was leery about giving Bourn a 4th year guaranteed, and a vesting option for the 5th year is foolhardy, imo. The 4th year, whether for $15 million or $12 million could delay the development of internal options for the outfield, like Nimmo. And it really wouldn't be like getting Bourn for 1 year at $3 million, because the FO would never figure that they saved $9 million over the first 3 years that they could now apply to signing some FA in that 4th year. They'd have a payroll target that included Bourn at $14 million. (which is what Bourn will be getting in 2016) All that said, I would have been very happy with a 4 year/$48 million deal, if the 5th year option was a team option rather than a vesting option, and (a very big AND) they were able to keep the 11th pick and its slot money. We shouldn't need to fill 3 outfield spots for 2014, but we will probably need at least one big signing, maybe two. Ellsbury might just do the trick.

Matthew, you should turn that half empty glass upside down and look at things from the other side. If you don't think that Travis d'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Shaun Marcum, Brandon Lyon, and even Scott Atchison, Pedro Feliciano, LaTroy Hawkins and Wuilmer Becerra are quality players, I need to see your definition of quality.

Charles, the only thing I disagree with is that Bourn IS that good. If he gave us an OBP between .340-.350 with 40-50 SB and 90-100 R's in the leadoff spot, if he played the kind of CF I would expect him to play, he'd be great for this team. He may not be that good in 4 years, but for the near term he would have been invaluable. Even without him, though, this has been a very good off season for the Mets. And things are only getting better. I only hope that their idea of "the best available player" come June, actually turns out to be the best available player in 2015 and beyond.

Unknown, again, although defense certainly does matter, Duda is, nonetheless, a viable option. His bat could make us overlook his lack of defensive tools, as it has for many, many other primarily offensive outfielders.

Mack's Mets © 2012