NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Criticized for not spending enough on free agents in recent years, the Indians splurged on another star.
The Mets, a team also criticized for free-agent inactivity, missed out.
Cleveland agreed to terms Monday with outfielder Michael Bourn on a four-year, $48 million contract. It’s the second major deal this winter for the Indians, who signed free agent Nick Swisher to a four-year, $56 million contract in January.
Bourn, who was an All-Star with Atlanta last season, must pass a physical later this week in Goodyear, Ariz., before the deal can be completed. Bourn batted .274 with nine homers, 57 RBIs and 42 steals last season for the Braves. It’s not yet known when Bourn will have his medical exam.
Bourn was offered a similar contract from the Mets, who were his top choice, according to multiple reports. But he couldn’t wait to see how New York’s attempt to keep its No. 11 pick in the draft would play out.
The top 10 picks are protected. New York has argued it should keep its selection since the team was among the 10 worst in baseball last season. The Pittsburgh Pirates jumped ahead in the draft when they failed to sign their top pick in 2012.
As long as there isn’t a hang-up, the 30-year-old Bourn, who has remained on the market all winter, will move into the Indians’ starting lineup. The speedster played center field last season and would give an immediate boost to a Cleveland team that has reloaded with the acquisition of Swisher, manager Terry Francona and starter Brett Myers.
Bourn, a two-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner and three-time steals leader in the NL, had also been pursued by the Chicago Cubs.
Getting Bourn will cost the Indians picks in June’s amateur draft. But it’s a small price for a player who will help them score more runs, improve their attendance — Cleveland averaged just 19,797 fans at home — and maybe even close the gap on Detroit in the AL Central.
The surprise signing caught one of Bourn’s new teammates off guard.
“Did we just sign Michael Bourn?” second baseman Jason Kipnis asked on his Twitter page.
Bourn, a .272 career hitter in seven seasons with Philadelphia, Houston and Atlanta, could wind up in a starting outfield alongside Swisher and Michael Brantley. The Indians also acquired center fielder Drew Stubbs in a trade with Cincinnati, giving Francona options and depth. It’s possible Swisher could be moved to first or even be used as the club’s designated hitter. Mark Reynolds, also signed during the offseason, can play first or DH.
The deal for Bourn also comes after the Indians signed slugger Jason Giambi and pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka to minor league deals this last weekend. Matsuzaka must still pass a physical with the club.
Mets fans, are you glad to still have the No. 11 pick? Be heard in the comments…
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