Much of the focus on Friday revolved around the tender deadline and what the Cubs would do regarding Ian Stewart. But the front office tag team of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were keeping themselves busy with other areas of business as well. Hoyer as mentioned over the weekend that the Cubs will be looking for another outfielder as the Winter Meetings approach.
October 3, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Bourn (24) steals second base ahead of the throw to Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison (5) during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Friday evening, Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago mentioned that the Cubs had been in contact with Scott Boras, specifically regarding free agent Michael Bourn. With super agent Boras reportedly seeking a $100 million contract for Bourn, on the surface, the Cubs interest in the speedy outfielder is a bit of a head scratcher considering the North Siders see 2013 as another rebuilding year.
However, Levine goes on to point out that the Cubs could see the signing of Bourn in the same vein as what the Washington Nationals did by signing then surprise Jayson Werth to an over priced deal. In hindsight, the rest of the league saw this past season that the DC club had a plan in place, as they had the veteran Werth to help lead a young ball club built around Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
The Cubs are shooting for the goal of starting a string of contending seasons beginning with 2015. By then, the Cubs figure to have a solid core with current double play duo Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, surrounded by up and coming prospects like Brett Jackson and the pair signed from Cuba, just to point out a few. Bourn would provide the veteran presence in the outfield that currently figures to be sans Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus come 2015.
Bourn would also fill void at the top of the Cubs order. The former Astro and Brave has led the league in steals a couple times and would provide Chicago the text book lead off man to set the table for the offense.
Where the similarity with Werth and the Nationals takes a hit is the fact that Bourn is currently 31 years old. With speed being his biggest threat on offense, signing Bourn to a long term deal would include concerns about health and his ability to keep up his prolific base stealing abilities. In 2015 he would turn 33, and base thieves tend to see a decline as they continue into their 30’s. Just look at Ichiro Suzuki.
It remains to be seen just how serious the Cubs interest is, but with the rumored signing of Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, it is apparent that the Cubs front office will not hesitate to spend money if the right player and price comes along.