Michael Bourn Was Never in Phillies’ Cards

Michael Bourn finally found a home yesterday, signing a four-year, $48 million deal with the Cleveland Indians. Bourn had spent most of the winter trying to find a deal somewhere near those earned by Josh Hamilton (five years, $125 million) and B.J. Upton (five years, $75 million). The Scott Boras client, though, drew only faint interest as concern mounted over his age (30), reliance on speed, the potential mirage that was his 2012 season, and that his signing would cost a draft pick.

The contract is relatively cheap — it pays the center fielder like a 2.5-win player, something he has been for many of the past five years. In fact, Baseball Reference has Bourn exceeding 4.5 WAR in three of the last five seasons. Even with the decline that is expected of players in their 30’s, the Indians have a great shot at getting positive value out of the deal. In Phillies land, there was some frustration as the team has had a quiet off-season highlighted by the Ben Revere trade that sent Vance Worley and Trevor May to Minnesota. Adding Bourn instead of Revere, some think, would have given the Phillies a much more favorable outlook going into 2013.

The Phillies were never going to get Bourn on a four-year, $48 million deal, though. Part of the reason Bourn’s price fell so dramatically was because the Phillies unexpectedly traded for Revere, a player who wasn’t on anyone’s radar after the Washington Nationals traded for Denard Span. If the Phillies, Nationals, and Braves hadn’t satisfied their outfield needs via trade, Bourn would have had more leverage to ask for more guaranteed money and even another guaranteed year. Back in November, the Phillies’ limit with Upton was five years, $55 million, so it is hard to see them beating that for Bourn.

Phillies fans should be happy that GM Ruben Amaro traded for Revere at the relatively low cost of a fungible back-end starter and a middling pitching prospect, rather than handing out yet another rich, multi-year contract to a free agent. Revere is similar to Bourn in a lot of ways, even including offense. PECOTA projects Revere to post a .243 true average (TAv; a stat similar to wOBA, scaled to batting average) while Bourn is projected at .249. Both play stellar defense and run the bases very well. What should make fans appreciate Revere over Bourn are two things: Revere’s age (24) and contract status (arbitration-eligible from 2014-17). Revere should be a relative equal to Bourn on the field, but he will be more likely to be healthy and he will be significantly cheaper over the same span of time over which Bourn’s contract with the Indians runs.

Amaro hasn’t had a great winter setting the Phillies up for 2013 and beyond, but the Revere trade should be universally applauded even after Bourn signed his team-friendly contract yesterday. Phillies fans should not be pining for another relatively expensive, aging free agent.

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24 comments

  1. BobSmith77

    February 12, 2013 09:52 AM

    Revere better be as good as advertised defensively in CF or he doesn’t have nearly the value Bourn does.

  2. Nik

    February 12, 2013 10:16 AM

    The thing is that maybe the Phillies should have gotten both. That would give the Phils elite defense and speed in the OF even when Ruf plays LF.

  3. JRFarmer

    February 12, 2013 10:20 AM

    Any value in trading for Drew Stubbs now?

  4. MattWinks

    February 12, 2013 11:00 AM

    Part of the calculus too is that the Indians gave up their #61 pick in this deal (having given up their 2nd round pick for Swisher), that is a huge difference from giving up the #16 pick. The question is the difference between Revere and Bourne greater than the value of having the #16 pick and about 35 million in savings or the no pick, Worley, and May. The money saved on Revere long term can help the Phillies fill in the gaps better elsewhere (not to mention Revere should be unquestionably better than Bourne in about 2 years)

  5. Phillie697

    February 12, 2013 11:16 AM

    Maybe Ben Revere will pull a Derek Jeter at 24 and start cranking out 20 HR seasons…

    Yeah, I know, pipe dream. I’d be happy if he walked like Derek Jeter, nevermind hit like him. He’ll be fun to watch in CF though… I’m excited about that.

  6. Jeff T

    February 12, 2013 12:36 PM

    Not to be too optimistic or put too much stock in minor league numbers, but I do expect Revere to walk better than he has in previous minor league seasons. I think 300/350/350 with 40+ steals and plus defense is realistic.

  7. Joecatz

    February 12, 2013 01:09 PM

    Nice analysis bill. My only objection here is that the reality is that it was not the revere trade that pulled us out of the Bourn market, rather the Adams, signing, followed by the delmon young signing, followed by the Durbin signing.

    If the team would actually figure out how to value relief pitchers, they easily could have been in on Bourn at exactly the same deal he got with Cleveland with a little patience.

  8. Nik

    February 12, 2013 01:14 PM

    The deal would not be exactly the same, as there is a big difference between giving pick number 16 and pick number 62.

  9. Chris S.

    February 12, 2013 02:59 PM

    Excellent analysis Bill. I was thinking just the other day how well Amaro did on the Revere trade. He got Michael Bourn Jr without the strikeouts and is 6 years younger.

  10. KH

    February 12, 2013 03:04 PM

    A lot of Bourn’s WAR value is tied to his defense and defense is probably the shakiest component of advanced baseball stats. Not that Bourn isn’t a very good defensive player just whether he is worth 2+ wins a year just from his glove is what I question. Given his age I wouldn’t sign Bourn for those numbers even if we could afford him.

  11. T. Martin

    February 12, 2013 03:08 PM

    Ben Revere’s offense, one base by hit, two if we’re lucky. If you love bunt hits you’ll be very happy with Ben Revere. I would LOVE to see them grab Stubbs though because if they’re trailing by one run late in the game they’ll need somebody to pinch hit for Revere. (unless you’re directly related to John Mayberry, why is he still here again?) I hated the trade for Revere then and I don’t like it any better now. In fact I’ll be shocked if the Phillies finish the season viewing Revere as a long term solution. Not that I’m advocating they should have given up the first round pick to sign Bourn. I’m just not at all impressed with Revere who looks like a fringe major leaguer a la Ricky Otero.

  12. NickFromGermantown

    February 12, 2013 04:40 PM

    While not getting Michael Bourn is likely cause for relief, I’m not sure that we should be applauding the acquisition of Ben Revere either. Ruben Amaro’s moves have increasingly become more questionable and they become so in a compounding manner. On one hand he says the Phillies need to get Younger, yet it seems like the average age of the team creeps up. So then he goes out and swaps a young player and a prospect for a young player. Then he signs more old guys. But then the young player he gets doesn’t have power so he is able to back into trying to get a power hitter. Then he goes out and gets someone with a little bit of power, but he doesn’t fit into the other goal of taking better at bats.

    It’s very frustrating to say the least.

  13. Phillie697

    February 12, 2013 04:58 PM

    @Nick,

    We did get younger. We got two Young’s! Get it? :)

  14. LTG

    February 12, 2013 06:05 PM

    D. Young is 27. He’s still young. He just doesn’t have any upside left as far was we can tell.

  15. lefty32

    February 13, 2013 12:44 AM

    I would have been all over bourn if we only lost a 2. But a 1 at 16 is to much,

    with their current lack of quality prospects. Are you going to rate the Phil’s top 10 or 15 prospects? PP has lost all CRED they are having the readers vote for the top 30. BULLSHTTT sorry coughed. Can’t trust numbers. The are locking out anyone who tells the truth. PP and Penn ST cooking the books and now cospiring to fix the poll. ha-ha so sad but simple minds do simple things when they get big heads People just move on and find better blogs.

  16. Leo

    February 13, 2013 01:29 AM

    I’m ok with Revere. I am also ok with the two “old guys” they got because they’re one year deals. They fill the gap until actual players are either ready or available via trade or free agency. I don’t believe you start throwing away all your money to chase a possible great year (maybe only a good year) when what you really are betting on is Chase and Howard being something better than last year for a whole season. And not much better considering they had a winning record in the second half once they got going with feet under them.

    One thing I haven’t seen is anyone saying they should have brought Shane back. Shane has more power than Bourn or Revere combined! (Unfair given all the comparable power comes from Bourn anyway. lol)

    I think Ruben did alright for this year. I think the team will do well. I think they can actually improve next year. By then, the Nats & BRaves will be “older” by a year and stuck with contracts that may become albatrosses. That’s why we watch!

    The good news… WE ARE NOT THE ASTROS OR MARLINS! lol

  17. Pat

    February 13, 2013 11:11 AM

    Lefty – phuturephillies has always had a reader top 30 poll and it’s more of just a fun exercise to pass the offseason. Matt and Brad do their own top 30s in a few weeks.

  18. LTG

    February 13, 2013 01:32 PM

    Question:

    Now that the market for Lohse seems bearish, should the Phillies consider making a low-ball offer and losing the 1st round draft pick?

  19. hk

    February 13, 2013 02:03 PM

    Lohse has been very BABIP lucky the past two seasons (.269 and .262, dropping his career BABIP to .297), so I’m not a big fan. I guess it depends how low-ball of an offer Boras is willing to accept.

  20. Phan analysis

    February 13, 2013 02:53 PM

    I personally don’t think Lohse is worth it in the long run. We have too much pitching that is almost ready for the majors to be losing a 16th pick for Lohse.

    Obviously all draft picks are lottery tickets, but we need to start restocking the shelves in the minors. The more high draft picks we have, the better the chances of getting a worthwhile prospect.

  21. LTG

    February 13, 2013 11:20 PM

    I’m basically with you fellas. But Lohse would be about 2 wins better than Lannan, given the differences in xFIP and SIERA. That could matter. 2/20 or 3/24 might be worth a shot.

  22. Ryan

    February 14, 2013 08:27 AM

    There’s no way that I’m giving up the 16th pick for Kyle Lohse at any cost. He’s 34 years old and due to regress because of luck and age–not to mention that he would be pitching in a slightly better better hitters park. No way. Give our young guys a chance.

  23. LTG

    February 14, 2013 09:56 AM

    Our young guys? Lannan is the guy Lohse replaces. Our young guys aren’t ready for MLB yet.

    And even if Lohse’s BABIP regresses, which is the only source of luck here since LOB% and HR/FB% are about average, he is still 2 wins better than Lannan (at least).

    It is worth considering if he is cheap for short years because they rotation might change drastically over the next 2 years and having some guaranteed MLB arms to help the transition would be nice. This is why 3/24 strikes me as the kind of deal worth doing. I don’t expect it will happen, of course.

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