Michael Bourn and the Atlanta Braves
Before the off-season began Michael Bourn was linked to the Nationals more than any other player. The Nats needed to improved their outfield defense and were still looking for someone to lead-off. When it came to free agents Bourn was that guy, but as the off-season has dragged on and the Nationals traded for Span, the Phillies for Revere, the Giants signed Pagan, and the Reds traded for Choo…the Bourn market is quickly evaporating.
As the market for Bourn vanishes he may employ a tact used by other Boras clients and look for a one year pillow deal and hit the free agent market again next season. If this is indeed what happens then the Atlanta Braves suddenly make a lot of sense for Michael Bourn. Sure they signed BJ Upton but it isn't written into his contract that he has to play center and an outfield of Upton, Bourn, Heyward would be the best defensive outfield in baseball.
The Braves would be in an excellent position if they got Bourn back. Upton's bat then replaces Chipper's in the line-up with Prado moving to and upgrading the defense at third and nothing else changing in the batting order. The Braves would be the same offensive team they were a year ago with even better defense, and Prado and Simmons make for one of the better left sides of the infield in baseball. It is hard to find a negative to the Braves bringing back Bourn if the market does fall to them.
Considering the Braves other options, it starts to make sense for them to make a run at Bourn even if it isn't a pillow deal. By this time Bourn should have come to the realization that he and Scott Boras priced himself out of his own market. Teams were so afraid of his asking price of seven years and $100 mil that they quickly sought alternate solutions. Add in the fact that most of the teams that needed Bourn have found alternate solutions and it makes his market almost non-existent. The Rangers or Yankees could still make a run at Bourn, but that won't be known until Hamilton decides where he is going.
The question right now is if the market will fall to the Braves. They are waiting to pounce but it remains to be seen if the market fall into the Yankees hands before it reaches the Braves or if there another team that doesn't appear to be a contender that could sign Bourn to jump start their winning process. Imagine if the Mets traded Dickey for Olt and signed Bourn. That gives them a well-balanced line-up with power and speed along with a top four of Santana, Harvey, Niese and Wheeler has the potential to be quite good. There are questions of whether the Mets have money to spend, but a move for Bourn isn't going to cost what was expected and it has potential to damage a division rival.
As Bourn's options dwindle the place that makes more and more sense is the Atlanta Braves. Bourn has played there and he knows them and they know him. Losing his 6.4 fWAR is the biggest hit the Braves took and while Upton and full seasons from Simmons and Medlen will mitigate that loss they can outright not suffer the downgrade by bringing back Bourn. The question now is: where is Bourn’s market? The Yankees don't appear to be interested in spending money on much of anyone and there are questions of whether Bourn would fit with the Rangers. If Seattle loses out on Hamilton they could go after Bourn, but after finally escaping Houston for Atlanta, Bourn may be unwilling to return to a losing franchise. If Bourn does go back to the Braves the one thing that is certain is the NL East will be even tougher than it appears right now, and the Nats will no longer be the favorites for the division crown.