Michael Bourn is officially a member of the Indians and that means talking to the press, but he was far from alone. Bourn showed up with Indians GM Chris Antonetti, his agent Scott Boras, and his son who could be heard murmuring into the mic when he wasn’t cracking up the presser by being what Bourn referred to as a “show off.”
“Every team was on my radar,” Michael Bourn joked in his first answer to a question from the Cleveland media about if the Indians were even a thought when free agency began. It was a joke, but it just goes to show that when it comes to baseball there’s very little bias against teams. When a guy is on the market and seeking a contract, he’ll seemingly go where the money is and only split hairs when the money is close or even. Still, the Indians turned the free agency tide this season, so how did they do it?
First and foremost, the Dolans committed to stepping up. Whether it was the windfall from STO or the promise of future national TV revenues, there’s just no doubting that the Dolan family stepped to the plate this off-season. They’ve committed over $100 million to future contracts this off-season, but even just for this year they are going to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $83 million. That’s an increase from the roughly $66 million they spent last year, which was another increase, by the way.
Even as the Dolans stepped up, there’s no doubting that the draft compensation situation in MLB affected Bourn’s value on the open market. The Indians had a protected pick, so they only had to give up a compensatory pick, which created a unique opportunity of advantage over some other teams like the Mets. The net result was that Bourn’s value was depressed down from the nearly $80 million that Bourn hoped to get this free agency period.
Scott Boras even got in on the act and discussed the draft pick compensation perspective that might have hurt Michael Bourn’s value. Depressed value or not, it’s going to cost the Dolan family roughly $50 to $60 million depending on whether the deal turns out to be four or five years long. To his credit, Bourn wasn’t bemoaning the lack of bidding for his services. According to Chris Antonetti, Bourn has committed to donating at least $200,000 to Cleveland Indians charities.
Most importantly Scott Boras said that Terry Francona, Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti approached him at the winter meetings and let him know then that the Indians were ready to start adding via free agency. It’s especially great now knowing that they have and it has resulted in adding Michael Bourn to the outfield and the top of the lineup.
Oh and don’t forget the base paths. Bourn was asked if it might be harder to find room to run in the American League with that style of baseball. Bourn said he didn’t want to get into all the strategy he’s talked with Terry Francona, but he did say, “I’m pretty sure he’ll let me run.”
Let’s hope so.
(Photo by @MLBastian on Twitter)