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Braves and Michael Bourn avoid arbitration for $6.845 million

Jan 17, 2012, 12:37 PM EDT

Michael Bourn

The Braves and center fielder Michael Bourn avoided arbitration today, agreeing on a $6.845 million deal for 2012. That’s a raise from the $4.4 million he made in 2011. He’ll be a free agent after the season.

Bourn was acquired from Houston last summer in exchange for Jordan Schafer and some minor leaguers. Expected to provide a spark, he hit just .278/.321/.352 after coming to Atlanta. He continued to steal bases at a decent clip and is an elite defender.

A Scott Boras client, the Braves likely assumed when they got him and assume now that he’s going to test the market after this season, so a long term deal to avoid arbitration was never in the cards.

  1. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Good arbitration signing. I hope he keeps his speed up – talk about a player who was Bourn to run!

  2. stex52 - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    I had a question I am interested in getting some opinion on, so here is my opportunity:

    Last August the Astros were dumping salary and got rid of Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. Since 2009 Bourn has consistently had the higher WAR. But it was pretty much consensus that the Astros got much more value for Pence. I can think of three explanations:

    1. In spite of all this talk about speed, defense and WAR, the GM’s would still rather see some pop in the bat (OPS) and aren’t necessarily bought into WAR.
    2. The fact that Pence had an extra year of arbitration control and Bourn has Boras for an agent hurt his value.
    3. Wade is just incompetent to deal with anyone but the Phillies.

    I would be interested in other opinions.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      If I’m not mistaken, Pence is also a FA next winter. As for the relative returns, I would say there were fewer.contenders with a need for Bourn’s skill set, thus reducing the asking price.

      • stex52 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        According to Baseball Reference, Pence hits free agency in 2014. That surprised me a bit, too. Seemed like he had been around longer.

        But wouldn’t fewer needs for Bourn’s skill set just say that WAR is valued less than OPS?

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        stex, If you look at fangraphs their WAR is very close between those two players. Just keep in mind that WAR is not a hard stat like OPS is. There are other variables thrown into the equation that nets the WAR stat. Myself I feel fangraphs WAR version is much more accurate than Baseball reference due to using UZR instead of total zone ratings as a defensive stat. I think that OPS is important and being an offensive threat is important, every team wants that, and defense is kind of looked at as secondary to that. Depending on position. It depends on just how much defense can be sacrificed for good offense. This is why the big power hitters dwell on first base and not third base.

  3. stex52 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Jonny, I’ll read up on the difference. I just started paying attention to in-depth stats rather recently.

    And in spite of my arguments above, I do realize that sometimes the market is different from what it seems it should be. (Witness Prince Fielder).

    Not ruling out the Ed Wade argument either, though.

    • Jonny 5 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:54 PM

      Look at Lance Berkman playing the OF when there were many more players who could play much better defense available. His Bat was worth more to the Cards than defense was. This is why Pence is a little more valuable than Bourne too.

      • stex52 - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:07 PM

        Good point, and I agree. It seems OPS is rated higher in the present valuations.

  4. foreverchipper10 - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Like!

  5. Walk - Jan 17, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    The bourne deal was made at the absolute last minute if i recall correctly. The braves had talked to the astros about pence but were more interested in bourne. They were likely gauging the suitors for Bourne all along and were able to complete the deal just before the non waiver deadline at 4pm. Bourne was going to be traded and the braves offered the most. If there had been more time i am sure someone would have topped the braves offer, but maybe i am wrong they did have all season up to that point to find a suitor. It was simply timing and a limited market for the skill set that lead to a smaller return for Bourne. I am not saying his skills are less valuable just that most of the teams that wanted an outfielder wanted one with some pop in the bat like Carlos Beltran or Hunter Pence and Houston ran out of time.

    • stex52 - Jan 17, 2012 at 9:46 PM

      No disagreement. But I do think it supports the argument that a little slugging is an easier sell for most teams.

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