If you thought the Atlanta Braves’ signing of center fielder B.J. Upton meant the door had been shut on a return for Michael Bourn: think again.
Braves general manager Frank Wren was on MLB Network Radio and had an interesting comment regarding the return of Bourn to the Braves lineup: “We’ve never closed the door on that.” He also said it would be a toss-up on who’d play centerfield for the Braves, noting that both men have the ability to play in either center or left. According to basic zone metrics, Bourn played superior defense in CF last season but Upton may be unwilling to move to the corner.
At the beginning of the offseason, Bourn was tapped as one of the major position players on the market. However, with rumors of super-agent Scott Boras asking for upwards of $100 million dollars for the speedy thirty year old, Bourn remains unsigned. There has been very little activity for the left-hander and he could be forced to settle for a one-year deal where he could reevaluate the market next season. It’s hard to foresee a scenario where Boras allows one of his clients to go that route but if Bourn continues to sit idly through Spring training, a return to the Braves wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
A one-year deal for Atlanta makes a lot of sense. The Braves are still searching for an everyday left fielder, apparently not satisfied with the potential combination of Reed Johnson and Martin Prado sharing the duties in a traditional platoon. Bourn would immediately slot in to the leadoff role where he was considered a catalyst for the Braves offense. Another immediate benefit that Bourn offers is it gives the Braves a little more time to evaluate some of their minor league talent. Evan Gettis, the supremely talented LF, has tremendous power but offers little in the realm of defense. Another year in Triple-A might be enough to get him comfortable in the outfield and would help make a smooth transition to the Major League ballclub in ’14.
It’s a stretch and Frank Wren understands that but don’t count a Michael Bourn return to the Braves out of the question just yet.
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