Now that B.J. Upton is signed there are two things we can do. We can cross him off the potential center field list and we can sort of see a market for the remaining center fielders.
Now, we have already looked at the pros and cons (twice) of adding Michael Bourn. I still am in the “no” camp. I think there are options out there that are less of a long-term investment and less of a risk for that money. General Manager Mike Rizzo says that he wants a dynamic lead off man, which means Bourn is definitely in the mix and that scares me because of the investment that will be necessary.
If Upton is getting five years, you have to think Bourn will want at least that. The problem is that Bourn is two years older than Upton. He is about to turn 30 which means that a five year deal will take him until he is at least 35. Carl Crawford signed his deal at age 30. Chone Figgins signed his after age 30. These are the worst case scenarios but it is the biggest image I have in my mind of what Bourn will be. Probably due to my watching way too many Seattle Mariners games the last three years.
With Upton signing first, it means there are even more teams in the running for Bourn, even though much of the rumored market for both players was pretty much the same. Like I mentioned already, there are other options available. I would much rather see a short term fixture like Angel Pagan or Shane Victorino than I would a five year contract on Bourn. But Rizzo has been right before, maybe he has something else under his sleeve. Too bad the Miami Marlins don’t have a center fielder with a big contract. That could have been an easy solution.
As for Upton signing with an NL East team, it doesn’t really worry me much. Sure, the Braves are probably the team best set to challenge the Nationals reign on the National League East, but I’m not sure Upton makes them that much better as we stand today. He definitely makes them better, I just don’t know if it puts them past the Nationals, and really any exercise in comparing two teams is best to do once Spring Training starts or at least when both teams are done their improvements. We know the Nationals will add at least one major league player to their team as we stand whether it be a pitcher, outfielder or infielder. We can assume the Braves aren’t done either.
Upton signing with the Braves only means that the market for Bourn changes and perhaps even intensifies. When competition for a Scott Boras client emerges, the only loser is the team looking for value. I don’t know if the Nationals can afford to have an outfield that includes Jayson Werth and Michael Bourn signed to big contracts especially when they will have other holes to fill and other big parts of the team to sign to long-term deals.
Buckle up, folks. The off-season is just getting started.