It looks like most of the 2013's Atlanta Braves lineup is already set, but general manager Frank Wren is facing the glaring question of whether he can lure Michael Bourn with a contract lucrative enough for his agent, Scott Boras.
Bourn is eligible for free agency once the World Series is over, and Wren has made it clear that he wants Bourn back in a Braves uniform next season. Wren even talked to Boras during Spring Training about negotiating a contract extension, but Boras almost always encourages his clients to explore free agency.
“We made contact with his agent in spring training to start negotiations, and they were not prepared to negotiate at that point, and said they would prefer to wait until after the season,” Wren told Dave O'Brien. “We made it clear to Michael that we want him back, that we’d love to have him back. We also know there’s a process in place.”
Since joining the Braves after being traded from the Houston Astros in 2011, Bourn has provided a spark in the lead-off spot that the Braves lacked for years. His 41 steals was good for second in the National League after leading the NL in the category every year from 2009-2011. The fact that he compiled career highs in homers (nine) and RBIs (58) may further drive the price tag after he made $6.8 million this season.
Wren's goal, however, is to wisely utilize the money that will now be cleared that Chipper Jones' salary is gone with his retirement and Derek Lowe's deadweight contract is finally over.
“We’re losing one Hall of Fame player, and the salary that goes with a Hall of Fame player,” Wren said. “And we’re going to be looking to replace him. And as we do that, it gives us an opportunity to add another big player. And we’ll see what happens with Michael Bourn. We’d love to keep him and hope we do keep him."
Wren also noted that the Braves are looking for "premium" players and would rather go after two solid players over one expensive player such as a Josh Hamilton.
If Wren is unable to reel in Bourn, he could also look at potential free agents B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino or Angel Pagan to fill the void.
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