Sandy Alderson isn’t really trying to sign Michael Bourn.
It’s that simple. This was a strategy I proposed he take at the beginning of the season. Have Alderson talk to some high profile guys and flirt with signing them. Talking with Josh Hamilton or Zack Grienke would have been implausible. But showing interest in Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn, now that’s the kind of outside possibility the Mets could pull off.
The best part for both of those athletes, once they were signed by another team, you could simply play the “those teams overpaid for those guys” or “we would have signed them but we wanted to protect our draft pick.”
Viola, you’ve shown the fan base that at least you tried, and you may have earned some cred with Scott Boras by helping bid up prices so that the next guy you sign from him has a small discount. Then you go out sign some pieces that will help the team or are low risk, high reward. That way it doesn’t seem like you punted the season, it just seems like the big ones got away. That sort of stuff happens every year, just ask the Texas Rangers this year.
But Alderson decided to wait on this plan. By waiting and making Bourn allusions this late in the season, it gives him a little more cred for the move, but doesn’t quite ally the disappointment in Alderson not signing a major league player until a month before the season. Approaching Bourn this late works because suitors for Bourn are few and far between. With two weeks left until pitchers and catchers arrive, Bourn, one of the top free agents is still without a team. It being so late in the offseason and the prospective suitors for Bourn being so few, it might be possible for the Mets to sign a premium player at a reasonable cost.
But without the whole “our first pick actually should be protected” thing working out the Mets aren’t going to sign him. Maybe they did get that call from Boras saying, “hey I really want to get Texas into the running for Bourn, can you make some noise and drive up his value?” Maybe this is just lipservice to fans still mad about losing Jose Reyes and not having a true leadoff guy last season.
Or maybe Alderson is hanging around in case Bourn falls into his lap. Bourn would be an upgrade who makes the team better, and isn’t just better than a Mets outfield (like Delmon Young would have been). If a whole lot of ifs line up Alderson would take Bourn for four year at under 20 million a year. Bourn really only needs to make $15 million to beat the one-year qualifying offer, and there’s likely just enough to wedge him into the payroll and add a $1 or 2 worth of middle relief.
Knowing Alderson, he’d trade Bourn at midseason and get a player worth that #11 pick. Perhaps he’s reworking his scheme with that in mind, or at least signing Bourn for one year and deferring the Mets’ first round pick to the following year after they get a free pick from a qualifying offer.