The New York Mets interest in free agent centerfielder Michael Bourn appears to be very real. In fact, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported this morning that “general manager Sandy Alderson and assistant GM John Ricco travelled to Houston last week to have dinner with free agent center fielder Michael Bourn and his agent, Scott Boras.”
There’s been a lot of debate as to whether or not the team was serious in it’s pursuit of the 30-year-old outfielder, but it’s getting harder and harder to argue anything to the contrary. With that being said, Sherman still calls a union between the two sides a ‘long shot’, with a couple glaring factors standing in the way, namely contract demands and draft pick compensation. As Sherman wrote:
Photo by Michael G. Baron
The Mets do not want to give more than three years to a 30-year-old whose main asset on both sides of the ball is his speed. Also, they wonder if any other team, in late January, is ready to commit more than, say, three years at $36 million-$42 million to Bourn.
But that brings us to the tricky matter of what kind of draft pick the Mets would lose in compensation should they sign Bourne.
The Post has learned the Mets will not ink Bourn without iron-clad assurances they only would lose a second-round pick to do so. They have vowed not to forfeit the 11th pick in June’s draft, no matter how much they could use Bourn to bat leadoff and upgrade what is currently a flimsy outfield assortment.
By now we all know the deal surrounding the Mets first round pick in the draft (#11 overall), which should have been a protected top 10 pick had the Pirates not failed to sign Mark Appel last year. That failure netted the Bucs the #9 overall pick this season as compensation, bumping the Mets down to #11 and leaving the pick unprotected. It’s a heaping helping of bad luck that the Mets fell victim to this situation with their first round pick and I think the league will eventually change the rules so that situations like this are treated differently in the future. That time, however, isn’t likely to happen in time for New York to consider signing Bourn, though Sherman says there are measures the team can still take:
Photo by Michael G. Baron
If Bourn requests it, the Players Association would file a grievance supporting the Mets’ view of how the rule should be interpreted, a union official told The Post.
Even if the union got an expedited hearing this late in the offseason, there is no certainty an arbitrator would find in favor of the union and the Mets.
Again, the Mets pledge not to sign Bourn on spec, risk the 11th pick and wait for a ruling.”
If the Mets can get Bourn for less than what the Giants paid Angel Pagan I’d be shocked, but teams are placing such high value on draft picks these days it’s no foregone conclusion that the former Brave is going to get near the contract he thought he would entering the offseason. This could put Sandy in position to swoop in and get Bourn at well below market value, but it would still take a magic wand to make all this draft pick drama go away. So as Sherman says at the end of his article “it remains a significant possibility the closest the Mets are going to get to the speedster is across a dinner table.”