The GM's Office: free agent
December, 3, 2012
By Jim Bowden | ESPN.com
USA TODAY SportsMichael Bourn is right where Jayson Werth was a couple of years ago.
When I made my predictions for how much each of the top free agents would get this winter, I had Michael Bourn getting the third-biggest deal of anyone, behind Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke.
Not only is Bourn coming off the best season of his career, but his agent is Scott Boras, who always knows how to get the most for his clients. That’s a recipe for a monster deal.
However, things are quiet on the Bourn front this week, and there isn’t an obvious destination for him. For that reason, I think he could end up with a team that no one expects, much like Jayson Werth, one of Boras’ high-profile clients from a couple of years ago.
Allow me to explain.
Given the availability of B.J. Upton (who already signed with the Atlanta Braves), Angel Pagan (who has agreed to terms with the Giants), Shane Victorino and Hamilton, there is no shortage of good center fielders on the free-agent market this winter. This means demand isn’t what it might be in other years. (Not to mention Dexter Fowler and Drew Stubbs, who are being shopped on the trade market.)
With Pagan and Upton off the board, two fewer teams will be vying for Bourn. The Philadelphia Phillies might be interested, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and Boras aren’t on great terms because of the ill-fated Ryan Madson deal that fell apart at the last minute a year ago. That could make negotiations difficult.
When faced with this situation in the past, Boras has been able to find a deal for his player from a source you wouldn’t expect. In 2010, there was no obvious fit for Werth, but Boras shocked the baseball world by getting him a seven-year, $126 million deal from the Washington Nationals, a team that was a bottom-feeder at the time.
Flash back a few more years, and you might remember that Ivan Rodriguez (a Boras guy) signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the Detroit Tigers when they were coming off of a 119-loss season. People said the Tigers were nuts, but Pudge led them to the World Series two years later.
When the money isn’t there from one of the “obvious” teams, Boras will go find it. So where will he find it for Bourn? I have some theories.
For starters, the Chicago Cubs: They’re rebuilding, but they have a very low payroll and plenty of money to spend. Boras could try to convince the Cubs that Bourn would give them some excitement at the top of their lineup, along with Starlin Castro, and keep fans interested while they rebuild.
The Seattle Mariners might be a destination for Bourn. They could have as much as $30 million to spend, and they're looking to make a big signing (or two) this winter.
Another possibility: the Miami Marlins. I know this sounds crazy, but I could see Boras making this pitch to Jeffrey Loria: “You need some good PR, the players' union is going to be on your back about not spending money, and you can replace Jose Reyes in the leadoff spot for less money.”
Remember, no one saw Pudge signing with Detroit back in 2004, and no one saw Werth to the Nats. Bourn is a man without an obvious destination right now, and don’t be shocked to see Boras deliver him to someone you wouldn’t expect -- like the Cubs.