Bourn says he’s focused on playing, not contract

The potential free-agent price tag for Michael Bourn was never going to be cheap, and could be rising with the dizzying pace the Braves center fielder set through the season’s first 5-1/2 weeks.

Bourn had a .375 average and 48 hits in his past 29 games before Monday, including 20 Braves wins. The team’s surge coincided with his own.

He’s eligible for free agency after the 2012 season. Negotiations haven’t begun between the Braves and Bourn’s high-powered agent, Scott Boras, and it’s unclear if the Braves will be willing to get in a bidding war for Bourn.

Boras generally advises clients to go to free agency once they’re this close to it. The agent and player indicated the Braves had factors in their favor.

“I knew coming into the season there would be questions, people coming up to me and asking what was going to happen with this and that,” said Bourn, who doesn’t comment on free agency and trusts Boras to fill him in when there’s something he needs to be aware of.

“I knew one thing – I knew we had a good team. I noticed that when I came [from Houston in a July 31 trade-deadline deal], how everybody interacted together. It kind of caught my eye.

“I could just tell they were trying to interact with each other and make sure we felt like we were playing together as one. So I made that my first priority. I told myself this year in spring training I wasn’t going to worry about that part of it, the negotiation part. If something came up, cool. But it didn’t, so I told myself just focus on working and playing baseball.”

He has done that, playing it at a level that’s far surpassed the two months he spent with the Braves last season.

Bourn was batting .336 overall with a .399 on-base percentage, 11 stolen bases and a .421 slugging percentage before Monday. He’d played every inning of every game and had 11 more plate appearances than any other National League hitter.

There has been speculation that Boras will seek a long-term deal worth at least $10 million to $12 million annually for Bourn, although Boras hasn’t said.

“We thought that was a good place for him, a good environment,” Boras said to a general question about Bourn’s first full season with the Braves. “The team in Atlanta was a really good fit. Glad it’s working out for everybody.”

He said the only immediate discussions he anticipated having about Bourn weren’t about a contract, but whether or not he’d be in the All-Star game. Which he will be, barring some unexpected turn of events or monumental snubbing.

“He’s the catalyst,” Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. “He’s been our team MVP by far. He doesn’t get the accolades that the bombers do. Freddie [Freeman] has gotten a couple of player of the week [awards]. I don’t know if he gets those without Bourney.”

Bourn was tied with Josh Hamilton and Rafael Furcal for second in the majors in hits with 51 hits, and his average, OBP and slugging percentage were all well ahead of pace of his career bests.

If there’s any pressure playing in a free-agent walk year, for a contender after years on mostly lousy Astros teams, then Bourn sure isn’t showing it. He said the key is to leave the contract talks and free-agent discussions to his agent and just play baseball.

“I knew we had a good team,” he said. “The guys we have – we have the pitching; each day we go out there we have a pitcher that can hold us in the game. And we have a really good bullpen.  With that being said, you owe it to your team to be focused on the task at hand. You don’t want to have any kind of questions in your head, having to worry about that all the time or what this person’s saying about you, what you’re going to be looking at.

“You don’t want to be worried about that. The single day has enough problems of its own without you having to worry about the next day and what else could be going on. Just worry about that  day.”

Boras said there haven’t been any negotiations, but that he and Braves general manager Frank Wren have talked.

“Our position is, when this thing is all said and done, I’ve got to believe this ballclub is going to be a part of Michael’s considerations — a strong part,” Boras said. “There’s just a lot of things there for him that work out very well.”

Wren makes it a practice not to publicly comment on contract matters.

Braves players say Bourn’s value to the team has been huge.

“He’s been the biggest difference,” Jones said. “Yeah, he was here for the stretch run last year, but to see him play every day, knowing that he’s going to be here all season – I think he’s got 51 hits in 35 games; that’s way up over 200 hits for a season. That’s something this offense has not had for a long time.”

Bourn won’t discuss free agency, but did say that if the Braves try to re-sign him, he’d be interested.

“It’s cool here,” he said. “Yes, I could [see himself staying]. I’ve got no problem with at Atlanta at all. No doubt.”

Two-out turnaround

In Sunday’s 7-2 win at St. Louis, which capped a sweep of the Cardinals, the Braves scored all of their runs with two outs. This after they started the day with the majors’ lowest percentage of two-out runs (25.8 percent).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time the Braves scored as many as seven two-out runs in a game since an 8-6 win over the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field on April 18, 2007.

Etc.

Dan Uggla hit .357 with a .438 OBP and seven RBIs in his past seven games before Monday, despite striking out in 12 of 28 at-bats. He was 10-for-28 with three doubles and two homers in that period. His 40 strikeouts were tied for third in the NL with ex-Brave Jordan Schafer, who was traded to Houston in the Bourn deal…. Freddie Freeman’s 28 RBIs were tied for third in the NL behind the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier and Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran, with 32 apiece.

26 comments Add your comment

Alex

May 14th, 2012
7:53 pm

B_F 52

May 14th, 2012
7:53 pm

No doubt it would be sweet

B_F 52

May 14th, 2012
7:55 pm

But Boras is slick as yuck on a coke bottle

Runner-

May 14th, 2012
8:01 pm

Definitely playing it smart by Bourn and Boras, but this deal will all depend on what type of budget Wren gets next year from the guys above. This deal is possible, especially with Chipper and D-Lowe’s contracts getting out of the way and no other significant deals we need to get done, excluding possibly a new deal for McCann.

However, if we are not given a substation increase in budget for next year by our owners, I don’t think this deal will be possible. If Bourn’s current production continues throughout this year, and if the Braves face another early exit from the playoffs, it will be hard to achieve a new contract, with other teams likely willing to pay in the 70-80 million range.

A run in the playoffs and a little looser purse for Wren might make this deal just possible, but you never know with Boras clients… Texiera anyone?

Tampa Gator

May 14th, 2012
8:36 pm

No way Liberty will approve a 10 mil multi year contract for Bourn….enjoy his play this year as a Brave. He will mostly likely not be one next year….probably the starting CF and lead off hitter for the Red Sox. They WILL spend the money.

Chuck

May 14th, 2012
8:47 pm

I know Lipka just turned 20, but hes playing lights out CF for Lynchburg right now. He has 5 outfield assists already. His hitting seems to have vastly improved as well. Very exciting player to watch.

CRAP

May 14th, 2012
9:45 pm

time to demote Venters to AAA for a while ,,,he is obviously injured or out of foccus ,,,,,

a lot of bad reliefs this season

BravesfaninWis

May 14th, 2012
9:49 pm

Venters and o’flaherty are not the same pitchers they were a year ago, and in turn, the bullpen is weaker. Venters has been getting beat up left and right and has put the Braves in some holes. Also, if McCann could block a ball in the dirt, opposing teams would have a little bit of difficulty scoring. When they can take 2nd or 3rd on a ball in the dirt, its pretty easy to score. Right now its the Braves offense, McCann’s defense, and Venters pitching that is going to make the Braves a loser tonight.

hiway 61

May 14th, 2012
10:10 pm

Love Bourn..just get it done Wren.

BravesfaninWis

May 14th, 2012
10:18 pm

Absolutely flatlined tonight. Did they even come to play a game? Jet lag perhaps? Whatever it was, it looked terrible in the process.

TheOnlyBravesFan

May 14th, 2012
10:24 pm

“It’s cool here,” he said. “Yes, I could [see himself staying]. I’ve got no problem with at Atlanta at all. No doubt.”

Bourn seems to like it here, the question is will Boras like the offer the Braves give.

MikeY

May 15th, 2012
6:04 am

My guess is that it takes 7 years, $120M to sign Bourn, and the Braves will not go that high. Some analysis: Chipper and Lowe come off the books, and free agents Bourn, Ross, Hinske, Diaz, Wilson, Hernandez, and Durbin are possibly gone, if the Braves do not re-sign them. That frees up about $38M. BUT we will have a number of arbitration raises: Prado, Jurrjens, and O’Flaherty are all arb-3. Venters, Hanson, Medlin, Beachy, and Heyward are all arb-1. My guess is that raises for all these arb-eligible guys will eat about $15M. So that leaves about $23M in 2013 to either re-sign our FA’s or sign new FA’s. It will be interesting to see how the Jurrjens situation plays out, he is making $5.5M in 2012, if he does not turn it around he could be released in 2013.

Ted Abernathy

May 15th, 2012
9:16 am

Just be glad you didn’t play for Bobby Cox, who would have turned you into a home run hitter, like he did with Marquis Grissom. Easier to manage that way, don’t have to think too much. Worked for Sparky Anderson and K.C. Stengel.

RBrave

May 15th, 2012
10:16 am

Great player and very important piece to this team, but you can’t sign a Bore-ass long term deal for an idiot amount of money.It’s just one year. Look at King Albert,ARod,these hign dollar long terms ruin an organization owed big bucks tying up cap money (our team). Do all you can do to sign him but don’t be stupid !

JT Grace

May 15th, 2012
10:59 am

MikeY — I don’t see the Braves bringing back Jurrjens or O’Flaherty next season. Both will be too expensive when they have cheaper alternatives ready for the majors. There is also a big possibility that Prado is traded. The Braves will free up as much money as possible to sign Bourn and extend the contract of Brian McCann. Those two will be their big priorities. They may sign Prado to an extension if they can’t get one of those two locked up, but EOF and Jurrjens are as good as gone.

JT Grace

May 15th, 2012
11:00 am

I also don’t think Bourn gets close to a 7 year, 120M contract. I think it will be more like 5 years 60M with maybe an option or two.

David O'Brien

May 15th, 2012
11:04 am

I agree with JT Grace (11 a.m.) on Bourn contract.

ATLBrave

May 15th, 2012
11:06 am

Bourn similar to Reyes…. take a look at his contract

ATLBrave

May 15th, 2012
11:08 am

some team will spend that kind of money on him

JT Grace

May 15th, 2012
11:17 am

Reyes is a 33.8 WAR shortstop. Bourn is a 17.2 WAR centerfielder. BIG difference.

TheOnlyBravesFan

May 15th, 2012
11:35 am

I agree with your take JT…. Bourn’s good but not a premium middle infielder like Reyes is… 5 or 6 (Nats might give 6) at about 9-11 mil a year seems about right.

ATLBrave

May 15th, 2012
11:35 am

So he is 50-60% the value of Reyes… so translate that to contract… so DOB is a good guess with $60-$70 million…. how about compared to Jason Werth… his WAR around 20-24… Bourn better defensive?.. run production (RBI, and Runs) just minus the long ball…

I think 50-60 is conservative, and something the Braves can and should Do…. realistically with all these enormous contracts, some one will offer him 80+

Mauck98

May 15th, 2012
2:41 pm

Bourn really seems to have found a comfort zone in ATL, and is playing the best baseball of his career. I think he will sign an extension with the braves. Numbers will look a lot like this 4/42 with a mutual option for a 5th year @ 12 million with a 1 million buyout. Basically you jus turn lowes money into Bourn & use the chipper & JJ money to lock up J-hey, prado, & kimbrell. Plus still have 6-7 million left for either a 3b or LF.

bruce

May 15th, 2012
3:11 pm

Michael Bourn:”The single day has enough problems of its own without you having to worry about the next day and what else could be going on.”

that is a pretty good paraphrase of what Jesus says in Matthew 6 verse 34
http://bible.cc/matthew/6-34.htm

TP

May 15th, 2012
5:21 pm

Let’s assume he is playing for a contract, is this good or bad for the Braves? Maybe I’m missing something, Didn’t Andruw Jones play for a contract one year? If I recalled, the Braves benefited from that ONE year……win, win situation.

EOF'ed Up

May 15th, 2012
6:19 pm

Hope they get him to settle in ATL, now that he’s comfortable he’s producing big time. Chipper/Jurrgens money can pay for him if the price is right. Whys everyone always talk about trading Martin Prado? He’s done nothing but good things for this club and usually hits around the .300 mark minus last year, whats with all the constant trade talk? Reminds me of the Heyward-haters when he slumps for a game or 2…

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