The Phillies filled their centerfield hole at the Winter Meetings by trading for the cost-controlled Ben Revere, but what if Michael Bourn's market continues to collapse and his best bet is a one-year deal? Should they take a look?
Bourn was in line for a five-year deal this winter. At the start of the offseason it looked like he would make close to $15 million per year, or perhaps even more than B.J. Upton, who signed with the Braves for $75 million over five years.
But the Phils, like many other teams, likely saw Bourn as a player who wouldn't be worth that money as he progresses into his mid-30s. Bourn is 30 and almost all of his value comes from his speed on the basepaths and in center. Those players don't age very well, historically, and Bourn's average of nearly 140 strikeouts per season since 2009 is worrisome for a leadoff batter.
Because of the question marks and contract demands from Bourn and agent Scott Boras, the Nationals solved their CF situation by trading for Denard Span. The Braves signed Upton. The Phillies acquired Revere. The Athletics traded for Chris Young, and the Giants re-upped Angel Pagan. Shane Victorino found work in Boston, though as a rightfielder.
For Bourn, a one-year deal might be the best option at this point. It would allow him to earn a high AAV (perhaps $13-15 million) and re-test the market next winter to look for his long-term deal. Boras went the same route last offseason with reliever Ryan Madson. Some might say it isn't in Bourn's best interest, as his value may be lower next year at age 31. But he'd be earning a nice salary in 2013 if he were to sign a one-year deal, and it makes more sense for him to take that risk than to settle for, say, three years and $30 million.
It's a situation worth keeping an eye on. Bourn wouldn't give the Phillies the power they need, but if they were to bring him back on a one-year deal it would be a definite upgrade. Revere would slide over to a corner, creating an elite defensive outfield. And the Phillies would have a ton of speed at the top with Bourn and Revere. Perhaps most importantly, this proposed idea would move Jimmy Rollins down in the order to third or fifth, where he would settle in as a run-producer.
A stretch? Definitely. But Bourn is still out there, his market is limited and his leverage is almost entirely gone. Right now, a one-year deal with some mutual option years seems about as likely as a five-year deal.