Apparently the start of Spring Training didn’t mean the Cleveland Indians were done with their offseason shopping. The Indians have reportedly agreed to a a four-year, $48 million deal with outfielder Michael Bourn, the best remaining free agent left on the market.
The deal guarantees Bourn $48 million over four years (through 2016) and includes a vesting option for a fifth year (2017) if he reaches 550 plate appearances in 2016. In terms of length, this is the same deal the Indians gave Nick Swisher earlier this winter.
Bourn, 30, hit .274/.348/.391 (104 wRC+) with 42 stolen bases and 6.4 fWAR for the Braves in 2012. The left-handed hitter owns a .272/.339/.365 (92 wRC+) career batting line with an average of 51 stolen bases and 4.0 fWAR per 162 games. He is known as one of the best defensive outfielders in the game—he is a two-time Gold Glove winner and his 22.4 UZR led all MLB fielders last year.
Bourn presumably will take over center field and leadoff duties for the Indians in 2013. It’s unclear whether this means Drew Stubbs will be relegated to the bench for Bourn or moved to right field with Swisher shifting to first base and Mark Reynolds moving to designated hitter.
This is a huge investment for a small-market team, but even if this was a bit of an overpay in terms of market value this looks like a pretty solid deal. Nice haul for the Tribe.