Some Thoughts on Michael Bourn

Dave · December 5, 2012 at 8:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

By popular demand, I present a few thoughts on Michael Bourn.

If you want to read my overall thoughts on Bourn and his market value, start with this piece on FanGraphs from September. In general, my thoughts on Bourn can be summed up there.

In a more Mariner-specific sense, I’d be interested in bringing him in on a shorter term deal if Swisher wasn’t an option and the trade price for others was deemed to be too high. He’s a quality player, even though I’m a little concerned about how well he’ll age, and with Franklin Gutierrez’s health issues, it’s fair to say that the Mariners could very well need a center fielder next year and beyond, so signing Bourn now could end up addressing an organizational weak spot. I know some are going to note that the team needs a power hitter and that there’s no reason to have Bourn and Gutierrez playing next to each other, but the diminishing returns of having multiple rangey outfielders are mostly overblown, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if the team ended up using Guti in left or right after signing Bourn.

Most balls hit to the outfield are only catchable by one guy, so there’s still value in sticking a great defender in a corner spot. We should be beyond the idea of “center fielders” and “corner outfielders” being drastically different. There are really just outfielders, and outfielders can produce value with both their bats and their gloves, regardless of where they play.

So, at something for three years if Bourn’s market collapses? Sure, I’m interested. But he’s not my first choice, and I don’t really want to give him four or more years, given my concerns about high strikeout/low power offensive skillsets.


23 Responses to “Some Thoughts on Michael Bourn”

  1. 9inningknowitall on December 5th, 2012 8:13 am

    I wouldn’t mind getting Bourn but I do worry about his hitting. If he can be a solid lead off hitter (unlike what Figgins was) he could be a good addition. Plus I have a hard time believing Guti will stay healthy for a full season.

  2. Westside guy on December 5th, 2012 8:13 am

    I’m not lobbying for the guy, but – I do have fond memories of Cammy, Ichiro, and Winn roaming the Mariners outfield. Rangy outfielders can be awesome.

    Also, anything that helps guarantee Alex Liddi never touches the outfield grass at Safeco again is a good thing.

  3. ivan on December 5th, 2012 8:20 am

    It’s irrational — and it’s not supported by data — but when I watch Bourn, I think of Brian Hunter, and I don’t ever want the Mariners to go that route again.

  4. rth1986 on December 5th, 2012 8:36 am

    Is it possible that the Mariners sign Bourn and trade Gutierrez, thus clearing up some salary room to add Swisher and perhaps a 1B/DH type, too?

    I suppose they could keep Gutierrez as a platoon partner with Saunders, but it seems like Wells would be a more effective back-up in terms of cost vs. production.

  5. stevemotivateir on December 5th, 2012 8:41 am

    Bourn seems like a similar, but worse, version of a healthy Gutierrez. If he’s going to command around 15 million a year, regardless of years, I really wouldn’t be interested. I’d rather see them target someone like Ludwick.

  6. asuray on December 5th, 2012 8:41 am

    “Is it possible that the Mariners sign Bourn and trade Gutierrez, thus clearing up some salary room to add Swisher and perhaps a 1B/DH type, too?”

    I can’t imagine that Guti’s trade value is much north of zero at this point.

  7. nickwest1976 on December 5th, 2012 9:06 am

    Maybe it is just me but does anyone else worry about Bourn being Figgins 2.0? We signed Figgins at age 31 coming off of a .298/.395/.788 and 7.5 WAR season.

    Bourn is currently 29 but will be 30 in a few weeks. So he is a tad younger but the skillset is similar…he is coming off of a .274/.348/..391 and 6.0 WAR season.

    Bourn swiped 42 bases last year and when we signed Figgins he was coming off of a year where he stole 42 bases as well.

    I very much like the idea of a Guti/Bourn/Saunders OF defensively and understand that creates big run prevention in the OF. But I just worry that guys with the skillset of Bourn (and Figgins) don’t age well as when the speed goes the value goes both at the plate and defensively.

    I agree with Dave, 3 years would be my absolute max on Bourn.

    I also don’t think you operate out of fear either but I also think learning from the Figgins situation is prudent.

  8. RaoulDuke37 on December 5th, 2012 9:29 am


    Does is make sense for the Mariners to go after Greinke, knowing what it may cost. I know there are holes to fill, but isn’t the biggest hole ‘Talent’.


  9. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2012 9:55 am

    So, does Boras play into the assessment at all? In my mind, I’m attracted to the defense and baserunning, and a true leadoff hitter profile… But with him being seen thru some eyes as the “top OF free agent”, it seems we’d be overpaying for the last 1 or 2 WAR he offers versus other options where we might add those WAR (while also signing a Swisher).

    Question being, does Bourn price us out of also going after Swisher, even at the projected discount as Nick’s market diminishes? Or, from a different angle, is there a cheaper guy with his skillset, and similar “top of order” profile, who allows us the flexibility to still go after Swisher?

    Those are my first thoughts on Bourn.

  10. Nate on December 5th, 2012 9:58 am


    Yeah, Talent is the thing you go after, but cost must be considered (unless you’re the Dodgers). And Dave has stated that it looks like Greinke is going to get a HUGE deal. Massive overpay for talent isn’t the smart move.

  11. _Hutch_ on December 5th, 2012 10:12 am

    He’s a slightly above average hitter whose entire value (104 wRC+ the last two years) whose value is tied to fielding and stealing bases. Stealing bases are a nice bonus, but overrated in the broader context of evaluating baseball players. Like Dave said, he’s a nice player but he’s not worth what he’s going to get coming off a 6.5 WAR season as a Boras client. I’m not convinced Ackley is the long-term answer at leadoff but I’m not willing to tie big money into a speed-based player on the wrong side of 30.

    And as unfair as it is to Bourn, comparing his stat line next to Figgins’ gives me the willies.

  12. thurston24 on December 5th, 2012 10:20 am

    I won’t complain if they get him, though I wish Guti could just stay healthy and would prefer a healthy Guti.

  13. henryv on December 5th, 2012 10:41 am

    It would be reasonable to assume that Bourne’s speed value, as well as his BABIP should drop, which would probably put him at a hitting RAR around 3-4, which would descend to about 1-2 over the next 5 years.

    So, if he’s worth 13 wins over 5 years, that would play out to 5 years and $75M being reasonable. And if you get him at 3 years and $45 or so, it might be a steal, especially if the price of a win goes up, as these new TV deals escalate the amount teams spend on rosters.

    Heck, you give me him for 3 years, $50-55, I think I’m happy, as I don’t have much confidence in Saunders, Wells, and Guti to A) stay healthy or B) play as well as they did in 2012.

    But 5 years, $80+M scares the hell out of me.

    While we might want to compare him to Figgins, which would be fair. But don’t his defensive values blow Figgins out of the water?

  14. Steve Nelson on December 5th, 2012 10:54 am

    Orioles sign McLouth, so that’s another team competing with the Mariners for OFs that may be out of the picture, with Swisher and Bourn unsigned.

    Mariners more and more looking like the only team in the OF market with money to spend. Dave and others observed earlier this year that there was a glut of OFs in this free agent class, and that is exactly the way it seems to be working out.

  15. greentunic on December 5th, 2012 11:18 am

    M’s get bay, says Andy Martino.

    Not to excited but these deals don’t hurt us at least.

    Steve Nelson,
    I thought the same thing until I saw the measly $2 Million they needed to sign Nate. However, I suppose it does take a roster spot for them. Either way, that doesn’t hurt us either.

  16. TumwaterMike on December 5th, 2012 11:38 am

    Why not try Bay at first base during spring training. He could be a right-handed version of Mike Carp. That way he can rotate between, LF/1B/DH. That would enable the M’s to keep Wells as well. We can still sign Swisher or make a trade for a big bat in the outfield.

  17. Steve Nelson on December 5th, 2012 11:38 am


    I agree not a big signing, but it fills a roster spot. If the Orioles are conserving money, it likely would be for a starting pitcher, though they do still have roster space for Swisher (using him at 1B).

  18. Westside guy on December 5th, 2012 11:43 am

    Wait… a tweet from Dave said Bay got seven figures!? That makes absolutely no sense.

    Why not try Bay at first base during spring training. He could be a right-handed version of Mike Carp.

    Hah. And I’m guessing he’ll probably hit about as well as Carp did in 2012.

  19. thedude1987 on December 5th, 2012 11:47 am

    And Bay it is…

  20. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2012 12:15 pm

    It’s not so bad… The Bay thing is pennies (even at 7 figures), a disposable contract, doesn’t cut us out of any other deals we’re considering.

    No reason NOT to really, as far as bringing him to Spring Training.

  21. TumwaterMike on December 6th, 2012 10:37 pm

    If we can’t get Michael Bourn, maybe we can get Jason Bourn. He kicks ass.

  22. low on December 7th, 2012 2:44 pm

    “We should be beyond the idea of “center fielders” and “corner outfielders” being drastically different. There are really just outfielders, and outfielders can produce value with both their bats and their gloves, regardless of where they play.”

    This is a ridiculous statement. The difference between centerfield and the corner spots is huge. The centerfielder is responsible for positioning the other two fielders and is also responsible for backing them up on the play. The CF also has to cover both gaps whereas the LF and RF only have one gap to worry about. I could go on.

    Your own WAR metric has a 10 run differential between CF and RF-LF. It is certainly a luxury to have two outfielders capable of playing centerfield, but to say “there are really just outfielders” is just flat out wrong.

  23. kinickers77 on December 11th, 2012 10:45 am

    Scott Boras client = stay away in my opinion. Unless you’re the Dodgers or Yankees and you can afford to significantly overpay.

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