We all know that Michael Bourn will be a free agent at season’s end. We all know that he’s represented by the dreaded Scott Boras, meaning he won’t come cheap. We all know that the Braves haven’t been willing to pay for big-ticket free agents lately, unless you count Derek Lowe.
And now comes more good news: If Bourn doesn’t stay here, he’s apt to wind up playing for a team in the Braves’ division.
Buster Olney of ESPN Insider lists the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies (link requires registration) as likely-if-not-downright-ardent Bourn suitors. The Washington link has been around a while, and the Philly tie makes sense. Bourn came up in the Phillies’ organization.
On cue, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer names Bourn as a probable target for the Phillies, who just dumped center fielder Shane Victorino and right fielder Hunter Pence. To his credit, Bourn refused to sniff at the notion, telling Brookover: “Ryan [Howard] and Jimmy [Rollins] are friends. I know Cole [Hamels]. I know Kyle Kendrick. I know they have a good team, but right now I’m worried about putting this ‘A’ on my head and going out and playing baseball. That’s about it.”
We’ve gotten used to seeing big names depart Atlanta after a brief layover here — Gary Sheffield, J.D. Drew, Mark Teixeira — but for the Braves to lose Bourn would be a real blow. They’d long sought a center fielder and a leadoff hitter, and in Bourn they’ve found both. And the thought of seeing him leading off for someone else in the same division would be rather revolting. But, as they say in baseball, that’s baseball.
Oh, and how good has Bourn been in 2012? FanGraphs assesses his WAR (wins above a garden-variety replacement player) value as 4.6 games. Among non-pitchers, that’s the 14th-best in baseball. Jason Heyward is 15th, Martin Prado 26th. Be a shame to break up that outfield.
By Mark Bradley