Cleveland Indians mean business: reportedly sign Michael Bourn
According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the deal has a vesting option for a fifth year at $12 million if Bourn reaches 550 plate appearances in 2016.
The timing of the signing is noteworthy: Bourn had gone well into the offseason without agreeing to a deal, and he signed for less money than many people expected. The New York Mets were said to be interested in Bourn, but as a rebuilding team they might not have felt the signing was right. The Atlanta Braves also signed BJ Upton and traded for his brother, Justin, so they had little need to bring Bourn back. With a diminishing market, Bourn ended up receiving less money than Nick Swisher, who entered the offseason as a less-desirable player on most free agent lists. Interestingly, Swisher also signed with the Indians. He received a four-year, $56 million deal with a $14 million option for 2017.
The Bourn signing gives the Indians a crowded outfield, but also more roster flexibility and trade possibilities. Michael Brantley is their projected starting left fielder, Swisher is the right fielder, and now Bourn will likely start in center field over Drew Stubbs, who was acquired in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. Swisher can also play first base or DH. Alternatively, the Indians could platoon Stubbs and Brantley in left. The left-handed Brantley OPSd .785 against right-handers last year and .680 against lefties. Stubbs posted a .788 OPS against lefties and batted .541 against right-handers.
In addition to signing Bourn and Swisher, the Indians signed pitcher Brett Myers to a one-year, $7 million deal and plan to have him start. They signed Mark Reynolds to a one-year, $6 million deal and plan to have him play first. Their most beneficial move may prove to be their acquisition of potential ace pitcher Trevor Bauer in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
I don’t care for the Bourn signing because I think his batting and fielding will decline, but the Indians are at least spending money and bringing in some quality players who should improve the team.