Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Impact of Bourn to Indians
By Jason Catania
Up until about 5 p.m. Monday, the Cleveland Indians had been having a good yet under-the-radar offseason. The club's agreement, as reported by CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, with free agent outfielder Michael Bourn, though, brings quite a bit of attention to a team that may now be rather dangerous as pitchers and catchers officially report Tuesday.
The 30-year-old Bourn has agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal (with a vesting option for another $12 million in 2017), per FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, and joins a roster that will look quite a bit different in 2013.
Already this winter, through various trades and signings, the Indians have brought in all sorts of new faces, including Nick Swisher, Trevor Bauer, Brett Myers, Matt Capps, Mark Reynolds, Drew Stubbs, Mike Aviles, Jason Giambi and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
With Bourn in tow, the club's outfield will most likely feature Bourn in centerfield flanked by Michael Brantley in left and Stubbs in right, which makes for a scary-good defensive alignment. Of course, Brantley or Stubbs could also become trade bait, which would allow Swisher to stay in right field. Otherwise, Swisher moves to first base, with Reynolds focusing his time at designated hitter.
Worth mentioning here is that the New York Mets appeared to be close to landing Bourn, but reportedly, with spring training starting, concern arose from Bourn's side over how long it would take Major League Baseball to resolve the sticky situation involving whether the Mets would lose the No. 11 pick in the 2013 draft for signing Bourn, who had draft-pick compensation tied to him after he rejected the Atlanta Braves' qualifying offer. The Mets now need to look elsewhere to address what remains a shaky starting outfield.
As for the Indians, they have a very interesting mix of young, talented players on the come (Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Bauer come to mind), quality veterans still in their prime, like Bourn, Stubbs, Brantley, and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, and even some experienced and useful specialty/backup pieces, including Giambi and Aviles.
The bullpen is full of quality arms like closer Chris Perez and setup men Vinnie Pestano, Cody Allen and Nick Hagadone, but a big question mark hangs over a rotation that lacks an ace and could have some holes at the back end, especially if youngsters like Bauer and Carlos Carrasco can't step up.
One thing's for sure, though, the Indians seem intent not to let the Detroit Tigers run away with the AL Central, and nobody's overlooking them now.
ESPN Insider's Keith Law has more:
Keith LawDoes Bourn addition make Tribe contenders?
"What I don't see here is the endgame for Cleveland. The team still isn't good enough to catch the Detroit Tigers without a substantial amount of luck in both directions -- bad for Detroit and good for Cleveland -- because the Indians lack the pitching to challenge for the division."