Published January 17, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – The biggest loser in the three- team deal between Seattle, Oakland and Washington on Wednesday - which saw outfielder Mike Morse land back with the Mariners - wasn't involved in the trade.
It was free agent center fielder Michael Bourn.
The trade takes another team off the list of teams who are looking for an outfielder. The Mariners now join the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox as teams who were all linked to Bourn entering the offseason, but all wound up going in a different direction for far less money.
Why are teams shying away from Bourn, a two-time All-Star, who is arguably the game's best defensive center fielder and one who has had a .348 on-base percentage while averaging 54 steals over the last four seasons? And last season was probably his best year, as he hit .274 with 96 runs scored, 42 stolen bases and a career-high 57 RBI.
So, what gives?
Perhaps it's his asking price, or more specifically his agent, Scott Boras.
Reportedly, Boras is seeking a $100 million deal for Bourn. It's hard to imagine that this late in the game a team would be willing to go that far, but remember Boras did get the Detroit Tigers to bite on a nine-year, $214 million (Prince Fielder) deal in late January a year ago.
Now that situation was a little different with Victor Martinez tearing his ACL and the Tigers needing a bat, but the point remains, more times than not, Boras gets his man paid.
And if you don't believe it, just ask reliever Rafael Soriano, who was able to pry $28 million out of the Nationals earlier in the week.
Soriano was one of the better closers in the game last season and has twice saved over 40 games in a season. But the Nationals already had two quality closer-caliber pitchers on their roster in Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. But, then again Boras was able to get the New York Yankees to sign Soriano to a three-year $35 million deal in 2011 when they already had the best closer to ever play the game still on their team.
Another Boras client, right-hander Kyle Lohse, also is still on the market with no real resolution in sight. In an age where pitching trumps all, you'd figure teams would be lining up outside Lohse's door considering he was 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in a league-high 33 starts last season. He also struck out 143 batters, while walking just 38.
Since the St. Louis Cardinals offered Lohse a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer, any team who signs him also would have to surrender a draft pick. Teams covet their picks more than ever these days, but the reason Lohse is still on the market is more likely because Boras is asking for the moon and then some.
But, still, of those three players, Bourn figured to be the one to find a home pretty quick, regardless of a team having to give up a pick. He's one of the best outfielders in baseball, but he's not a household name. Teams aren't willing to give a 30-year-old player like that $20 million a year.
There are a few teams that still make some sense for Bourn.
The Texas Rangers seem like an ideal fit. They lost Josh Hamilton to free agency and need another outfielder, but by all accounts they are more concerned about shoring up their starting rotation than filling the void left by Hamilton.
The Rangers have more than enough resources to give Bourn whatever he wants, but they also have an excess of middle infielders (and to a lesser extent third base, but it's not as big a deal to move a corner guy to a different corner), they could fill those holes with a trade. Cough ... Justin Upton ... cough.
Then there are teams who might just be waiting this process out and will swoop in at the end and hope to land themselves a bargain. But can someone refresh my memory and remind me the last time a Boras client signed for a bargain?
The Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers all fit that category. The selling point for those teams, other than the Brewers, is they would only have to surrender a second-round pick for his services.
Boras and Fielder got lucky last year when Martinez got hurt. Bourn may need to catch a similar break if he wants to land the deal he wants.
By hook or by crook, though, my money is on Boras.