They used to call Scott Boras “Mr. January.” Boras would analyze the market for a few of his clients than hold one or two back, allowing the supply to dwindle as demand rose. The rules of the new Collective Bargaining make it tougher for Boras to play it this way, argues Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
The shifting sands of free agency might just have left Boras clients like Adam Laroche, Rafael Soriano and Michael Bourn out in the cold. Improbable, considering the strength of those track records. Many teams could benefit from adding any one member of that trio, yet the most prominent team attached to Michael Bourn doesn’t really need him at all.
Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren took to the airwaves this weekend to express an ever-charitable opinion: the Braves aren’t shut off to the idea of bringing Michael Bourn back to Atlanta. Important provisos such as “for the right deal” and “we haven’t spoken with him” drench the idea in cold water but, having just signed B.J. Upton to an incredibly lucrative free agent contract, it is an interesting proposition for the Barves.
Wren went on to say that he would only consider Bourn to play left field in Atlanta, an understandable position considering how much they just paid Upton to be their CF. Do either of those two center fielders hit enough to play left field every day?
Bourn is best known as a burner, a base stealing threat with little power who takes away hits with his feet and creates extra bases for himself the very same way. Upton is a speedster himself but his offensive profile is one of a power hitter, thanks to his “boom or bust” contact rate.
The average left fielder in baseball posted a 103 wRC+ in 2012, meaning the average left fielder is a slightly better than league-average hitter. The average wRC+ for center field is lower, 101 last year. Both Bourn and Upton are more than capable of posting above-average offensive numbers. Upton is a career 110 wRC+ hitter while Bourn is less proficient, registering 99 wRC+ over the last three years.
Fortunately, this talk is more about the casual ego massaging required a baseball general manager than fitting these players together in a cogent outfield. Wren isn’t about to go on satellite radio and tell the listening world how much he prefers some other guy to be his center fielder over the guy he just handed seventy million bucks.
If, by some miracle, the Barves found the money to re-sign Bourn and ended up with an outfield of B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, and Jason Heyward – they’d survive. How ever much offense Bourn/Upton “give back” in left is surely made up for by their defense and the overwhelming awesomeness of Jason Heyward. Unlikely as it might be, Barves fans can dream on that elite outfield.
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