Surprisingly, these Mets might be a player for a major free agent. That’s good news. It speaks to the overall financial health of the organization – as a separate entity from Sterling Equities or SNY – in a favorable light for the first time in four years. That the Mets are in a position to throw substantial money at a player who is at the same time the most prominent name available and fills an aching need should hearten the spirit of any Met fan who’s really paying attention. A player who can be gotten with Mets Money and a superlative defensive outfielder to boot? Sign the man.
The bad news is that the player is Michael Bourn. There are several strikes against this guy: he’s 30, his bread-and-butter are his legs, he’s asking for a five-year deal, his agent is Scott Boras and he’s likely to cost the Mets the #11 pick in the upcoming draft. Other than that, he’s the perfect player for the Mets to go after. Sandy Alderson has made it known far and wide that he is loath to give out guaranteed money for a time period any greater than a couple of years. He has also been shy – publicly, anyway – of investing in players whose main strength is speed, rather than power. Ask Jose Reyes if he got that memo. In general, speed guys don’t age well – Rickey Henderson to the contrary. For the sabermetrically-minded, Bourn’s career slash lines look pretty pedestrian: .272/.339/.365, for an OPS of .704. Not really in line with Alderson’s credo of on-base percentage coupled with power. Defensive metrics aren’t really reliable enough to calculate Bourn’s worth on the other side of the ball, so it’s tough to see Alderson pouring what funds are available into a largely unknown asset. Throw in the fact that agent Boras is known for squeezing every penny possible out of a potential employer – and Bourn’s current suitors are known for squeezing every penny until Lincoln’s eyes bug out. Meanwhile, draft choices have been hoarded like a crazy lady’s kitty litter lately, so — barring some last-minute intervention by the MLB mucky-mucks — the first-round pick would be history. It would seem a mix too volatile for many tastes, including Sandy Alderson’s.
Yet, every day we hear about in-progress negotiations, visits to Bourn’s Houston home and speculation that things might be going surprisingly well. This goes a bit of a way to keeping the Mets semi-relevant and it’s been awhile since a January back page belonged to Queens for a positive reason.
Your intrepid columnist just can’t help but wonder if this is the right man over whom to spill this much ink.