After seeing outfielder Scott Hairston sign a two year deal with the Chicago Cubs last night, the New York Mets have turned their focus to the top remaining outfielder on the free agent market. That would be outfielder Michael Bourn, who is still on the market after batting .274 with nine home runs, 57 RBI's, and 42 stolen bases. Bourn's potential of joining the Mets has gone from no chance to a "realistic" possibility, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. The reason why Bourn is still on the market is two fold. The first reason involves the fact that Bourn is represented by Scott Boras, who is notorious for having his clients wait deep into winter to sign expensive new contracts. The second involves the fact that Atlanta gave Bourn a 13.3 million dollar qualifying offer in November, meaning that any team who signs him would forfeit their first round draft pick.
According to Puma's report, Mets General Manager Alderson has softened his status recently in terms of surrendering the team's first first round pick, 11th overall, to sign Bourn. Bourn is reportedly seeking a five year deal worth 80 million dollars, and CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that the Mets do have the money available in their budget to sign a player of Bourn's caliber. The main holdups for the Mets in terms of signing Bourn remain the draft pick and the length of the contract. Alderson is very hesitant to give out deals longer than three years to any player, and Bourn is a player whose main asset is his speed. Bourn is 31 years old, so it is a gamble to figure out when he will lose that first step. The draft pick situation is also a heavy consideration, as the Mets barely missed out on having their pick protected by Major League Baseball. The new collective bargaining agreement calls for teams inside the top 10 of the draft to have their first round picks protected regardless of what free agents they sign, and the Mets ended up just outside the top 10 at 11. The Mets are appealing to the league, according to Puma's report, to see if they can protect their first round pick due to being bumped outside the top 10 for circumstances out of their control. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who finished with a record worse than the Mets last season, got bumped back into the top 10 because they failed to sign their first round draft pick in 2012. That rule cost the Mets draft pick protection, and Alderson is appealing to the league to see if they can maintain that protection since they technically finished as one of the ten worst teams in baseball and it wasn't the Mets fault that Pittsburgh could not sign their top 10 pick last season.
The fact that Alderson is even willing to consider surrendering the 11th overall pick for Bourn speaks to how little confidence he has in the Mets' outfield. Bourn would provide an instant and noticeable upgrade for the unit, filling both the center field spot and leadoff spot in the batting order that has been a revolving door since Jose Reyes departed last offseason. For the Mets to sign him, the price (in terms of money and draft picks) would have to be right.
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