Thursday, January 31, 2013
Bourn's asking price
By Jason A. Churchill
The top free agent left on the market is centerfielder Michael Bourn, and there may be as many as eight teams with some level of interest. One of those clubs is the New York Mets. It appears, however, that the price is prohibitive for GM Sandy Alderson, reports FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, and a wonky compensation rule may be the main reason why.
ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin reported last week that the Mets wouldn't rule out pursuing Bourn, suggesting the club has interest. Scott Boras represents Bourn, so there's little doubt the price is still very high.
It's about more than the financial cost, though. On Sunday, Alderson told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of Sirius XM's MLB Network Radio that he's "very reluctant" to lose the Mets' first-round draft pick -- No. 11 overall -- which would happen if New York signed Bourn, because he was extended a qualifying offer by his former team, the Atlanta Braves.
Not only would the Mets be forfeiting the highest unprotected draft pick -- teams owning one the first 10 selections instead lose their second-round pick -- but also the accompanying compensation round pick (after the first round is complete) would go to a division rival who already lost its first-rounder by signing B.J. Upton.
Things get even more interesting. Rubin wrote that the Mets believe their pick should be protected, since they did finish with one of the 10 worst win-loss percentages in 2012. The most recent CBA stipulates the Top 10 picks are protected from compensation scenarios, but the only reason the Mets' selection is unprotected is because the Pittsburgh Pirates failed to sign right-hander Mark Appel, the No. 8 overall pick in the '12 draft, and will receive a compensatory pick at No. 9 as a result. This pushes down the Mets' pick from No. 10 to No. 11, and likely eliminates the protection of the pick that comes with it. The club, though, is waiting to hear back from the league on this matter before making any decision on Bourn, one way or another.
In the meantime, we learn via Mike Puma that Bourn is seeking at least a five-year contract, and from Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Mets' brass wen to Houston last week to meet with Bourn, suggesting their interest in legitimate and that they may be willing to sacrifice the draft pick, after all, or that they feel confident in their chances that the league extends them an exemption from compensation.