There seems to be a ton of talk about former Phillies outfielder and current Atlanta Braves leadoff man Michael Bourn. Bourn has developed into one of the top leadoff hitters in the game since being traded as part of the deal that landed Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett. You might even say that the Phillies traded Bourn for a World Series title. I think fans are satisfied with that.
Since the Phillies are facing a hole in center field with the free agency of Shane Victorino, many have started to speculate that Michael Bourn could be a free agent target of the Phillies in the offseason. Just as the Phillies were looking to turn in Ryan Madson for an upgrade in Jonathan Papelbon, they could take the same approach with Victorino and Bourn. For the difference in pay, Bourn may be much more productive.
So far the Inquirer's Bob Brookover advocates signing Michael Bourn, as he repeatedly voiced in Monday's Philly.com chat:
To me, if you add a guy like Bourn to the top of your lineup, it can change the dynamic of things very quickly.
Matt Gelb wrote today that Bourn still may fit right in with the Phillies:
Bourn, a former Phillie, will turn 30 in December and is represented by Scott Boras. He is having a career season with Atlanta and will look to cash in with a megadeal. He remains close with many current Phillies and hugged Amaro last week when the Braves were in town.
Will Bourn be a free-agent, or might he sign a long-term deal with the Braves? Represented by agent Scott Boras, Bourn certainly is. In the Washington Post, Bourn said he was indeed going to test the free-agent waters:
"I’m going to sit down after it’s all said and done, and I’m going to take my time and make that final decision. Right now, I’m focused on this season right now. I think I’m on a good team right now in the Atlanta Braves."
Bourn's signing would certainly represent a big change: Jimmy Rollins would have to find a different spot in the batting order. However, given the two are good friends, Rollins just may be willing.
Depending on what happens with Cole Hamels, the Phillies could have some money to spend. Hamels is scheduled to make $15 million this year. Joe Blanton is all but a sure departure and is making $8.5 million this season. Shane Victorino is paid $9.5 million. Placido Polanco earns $6.25 million (he will reqire a $1 million buyout). Smaller contracts include Jose Contreras at $2.5 million (plus a $0.5 million buyout) and Ty Wigginton $2 million (the Rockies are paying the other $2 million he is owed).
Of course, the Phillies will have some raises to pay for. Ideally the Phillies could trade some of their pending free agents for some low-cost help for 2013, as the Phillies will need to find a center fielder, left fielder, and third baseman. It would help a great deal if Domonic Brown finally emerges, but there is still work to do. Plus, the Phillies a solid bullpen arm for the 8th inning from both sides.
Other center field options this offseason include Melky Cabrera, B.J. Upton, and current-Phillie Shane Victorino. With Domonic Brown, Jiwan James, or Tyson Gillies not currently in any position to claim center field, the Phillies will need to add from outside the organization. So, keep Bourn in mind for 2013.