It seems like most winters there is a free agent who finds the market doesn’t shift in their favour the way they hoped it would, leaving them scrambling for suitors as the off season rolls on. It looks pretty clear at this point that, if anyone is left without a chair when the music stops, it is most likely to be Michael Bourn. The centre field market has been developed rapidly and unexpetedly this off season with teams resigning incumbents (Giants), trading for upgrades (Nationals, Reds) or splashing out on free agent imports (Braves). All this has meant that the market for Bourn’s services isn’t as robust as he and his agent would likely hope as we head towards 2013. Only a handful of teams could still be considering a move for Bourn and there is still a small chance he ends of taking a lucrative one year deal with the aim of retrying the market next winter. It’s worth remembering, however, that agents earn their money by being able to get that big deal when it appears no offers are out there. Prince Fielder’s contract with the Tigers is just the most recent example of this.
The Mariners are bringing in the fences at Safeco and have been strongly linked to Josh Hamilton already this winter, a clear sign that they are looking to add some significant thump to their offense. It may be worth considering if the reason they haven’t yet signed Hamilton is because the former MVP has far more interest in re-signing with the Rangers than he does with a move to the north west. If Hamilton does stay put, the M’s could decide that Bourn is the best option for reallocating their money.
Big outsiders in this race but have pulled off some surprising moves already this winter. An unlikely destination but could come into play if Bourn ends up with a one year deal.
Would make some sense if Hamilton does indeed leave to sign with someone like Seattle, however there has been little indication that the Rangers have been sizing Bourn up in the last couple of months. Bourn would appear to be a reasonable fit in the Rangers lineup but if they have money left in the budget it’s more likely to be spent on pitching.
Chicago White Sox
They don’t have a glaring need when you look at last year’s team but there are significant questions about whether their current group of Viciedo, De Aza and Rios can reproduce their 2012 performances. Kenny Williams’ reputation for springing surprises isn’t undeserved and he could well get involved here at some point. A sleeper to watch.
Again, another unlikely landing spot on paper but that’s the reality of Bourn’s market at the moment. Would mean finally giving up on Carlos Gomez but throwing money at Bourn is probably not the best use of the team’s resources given the current state of their rotation.
And that’s about it, and even some of those teams can only be tenuously said to be a fit for Bourn. In the current handicapping the Mariners are probably favourites although the White Sox have some appeal as an outside chance. Given the state of the centre fielder marketplace, it may take a trade of some sort to open a spot for Bourn.