Michael Bourn is arguably the best base-stealer in the game today, a label that carries a hefty price tag in a weak free agent market. At the same time, Bourn is not your prototypical lead-off hitter, compiling just a .338 OBP since 2008. Because of that, some teams are shying away in favor of guys like Angel Pagan and Shane Victorino while other teams are set on B.J. Upton. There will definitely be a market for Bourn, who averages over 50 steals per season, but will anyone be willing to pay him anything close to the $100 million he is reportedly seeking? Is he even worth anything close to that sum?
Based on the numbers other outfielders with similar skill sets put up, it is hard to envision that in the real world Bourn has a value over $11 million per season – at best. At the same time, the free agent market rarely pays out real world value.
Averages Since 2008:
Michael Bourn: 150 G, .272 BA, .338 OBP, 86 R, 51 SB, 24 2B, 8 3B, 43 RBI
Cameron Maybin (Since 2011): 142 G, .253 BA, .315 OBP, 74 R, 33 SB, 22 2B, 6 3B, 42 RBI (2013-2017 Salary: $3-9M)
Shane Victorino: 147 G, .276 BA, .343 OBP, 91 R, 31 SB, 30 2B, 11 3B, 61 RBI (2012 Salary: 9.5M)
Rajai Davis: 124 G, .270 BA, .313 OBP, 54 R, 40 SB, 21 2B, 4 3B, 40 RBI (2013 Salary: 2.5M)
Coco Crisp: 100 G, .265 BA, .330 OBP, 55 R, 31 SB, 18 2B, 5 3B, 40 RBI (2013 Salary: 7.5M)
Juan Pierre: 142 G, .287 BA, .341 OBP, 67 R, 41 SB, 14 2B, 5 3B, 36 RBI (2013 Salary: $1.6M)
You can see that Bourn is definitely the most prolific base-stealer in the league – and the most consistently healthy one. While guys like Davis and Crisp chronically suffer leg injuries, Bourn is averaging 150 games each season. That having been said, is he really worth so much more than Shane Victorino or even Juan Pierre? At just 29, he figures to be the better long-term investment but at $15-$18 million per season. I like Bourn but he is not a great on-base guy, he has a lot of miles on those legs for a 29-year-old, and he is represented by Scott Boras so look for him to be the one of the most overpaid free agents coming out of this off-season.
Estimated Contract: 5-years, $80-85 million
Who Will Overpay For Michael Bourn?:
Nationals: The Nats are a very good fit for Bourn and seem to be the favorites to land him. Their outfield currently consists of Bryce Harper, Michael Morse, and Jayson Werth so they would have to move Bryce Harper and/or Michael Morse but that becomes fairly easy if they lose Adam LaRoche.
Phillies: The Phillies seem to be the favorite in the BJ Upton sweepstakes but if they miss out on his they would definitely come looking Bourn’s way. Upton is expected to get about 5-years and $75 million barring a bidding war among the NL East teams so Bourn may cost Philly a little more.
Rangers: It looks like Josh Hamilton is headed elsewhere so this depends on whether Texas wants to replace him with similar power or add speed instead. Texas has plenty of power guys in the middle of the lineup so Bourn and Elvis Andrus could make a very good, speedy, run-scoring top-of-the-lineup combo.
Giants: The Giants lost Melky Cabrera and may lose Angel Pagan as well which leaves plenty of room for a free agent signing. I think the Giants are more likely to go with a desperately needed power bat like Nick Swisher but there’s always the chance they trust Brandon Belt to fill one spot and look for speed instead.
Yankees: There has been some speculation that the Yankees will go after Bourn, in need of a natural leadoff hitter (which, as I mentioned, Bourn really isn’t). He would fit well in the lineup and score a ton of runs but it looks like the Yankees are more intent on cutting payroll than adding yet another $80 million player.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com