Michael Bourn’s New Identity

by Jason Epstein

The Indians swooped in and grabbed the top remaining free agent on the board, center fielder Michael Bourn. According to multiple reports, the 30-year-old agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract with Cleveland. A fifth-year vesting option worth $12 million is predicated on the former Brave accumulating 550 plate appearances in year four.

Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs is cautiously optimistic about Bourn going forward:

The last four years, Bourn’s posted about the same WAR as Prince Fielder, Ian Kinsler, and Josh Hamilton. He’s done it as an average bat, and there are questions regarding how well he’ll age — Dave Cameron looked at his offense, and Cameron also looked at his defense. What Bourn has done isn’t necessarily what Bourn is going to do, and in December he turned 30 years old. As a guy who relies on his legs, Bourn has a chance of going all Chone Figgins-like. But one can’t deny what Bourn has accomplished, and one can’t ignore Bourn’s performance baseline. He’s been a four-to-six-win player for four years in a row, and that’s the most important information of all.

The offseason additions of Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Drew Stubbs, suggest that Tribe fans will enjoy their new-look outfield, although Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports suspects that Swisher will see considerable time at first base and last season’s center fielder, Michael Brantley, will shift to left field.

Right Field

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