Michael Bourn has been a terrific addition to the Atlanta Braves from the first day he arrived in town. After years of uncertainty in center field, Bourn has done more than solidify the position and has emerged into one of the premier leadoff men in the game.
As he gets set to hit free agency for the first time in a couple of months, Bourn and his agent, Scott Boras, are going to get paid a lot of money. And if one recent dollar figure is accurate, you can bet the Braves will be without the speedy center fielder next season.
According to this report from Buster Olney, Bourn figures to receive $16-22 million in free agency each season for five or six years. He is only 29 years old and on pace for the best year of his career, so these numbers are probably accurate.
The Phillies and Nationals, teams who can afford to spend a lot more than the Braves, are mentioned as two clubs very interested in Bourn. The Giants have also been known to have interest in him. And of course you always have to worry about the Red Sox, Rangers, White Sox and other American League teams getting involved, as well.
Unless these dollar figures are inaccurate and Bourn is willing to "settle" for less than $15 million a season through 2016 or 2017, he won't be in Atlanta. This is a tough blow for the Bravos, especially with no apparent in-house options for the position.
Frank Wren is expected to have about $35 million freed up for spending in free agency, but there are plenty of areas to address. A front-end starting pitcher will not come cheap, nor will a third baseman (or left fielder if Martin Prado shifts to third). Combine these costs with eventual raises to Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel and others, and you can see why spending a ton on an aging center fielder would not be wise.
Enjoy the next few months of Michael Bourn, because he's almost certainly gone once the winter hits. It's a sad reality, but one that will remain as long as Liberty Media continues to hold the franchise back financially.
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