August 3, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Bourn (24) makes a diving stop in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
The Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals may be two of the top suitors for free agent-to-be center fielder Michael Bourn, who Buster Olney of ESPN says may have the best leverage of all outfielders this off-season:
One executive joked recently that there is not a more inevitable offseason connection than the Nationals and center fielder Michael Bourn, who is eligible for free agency in the fall.
But another rival official noted all the money that the Phillies have freed from their payroll, with the trades of Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton. "You know who they want, right?" the official asked. "They love Michael Bourn."
Olney notes there are several factors in play that could result in Bourn landing with the Nationals this off-season. Washington has been looking for an athletic center fielder for what seems like forever; Bourn fits the bill. The 29-year-old would also help the Nationals out in the leadoff department, plus he’s a Scott Boras client, along with Nats’ players such as Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth.
However, Olney reminds readers that Bourn was drafted and developed by the Phillies and they covet his "grinder’s mentality." Philadelphia is also searching for a leadoff hitter will look to add at least one outfielder this winter, but it’s unclear if the Phillies will be willing to offer Bourn as much as the Nationals, as they will also be looking for a third baseman and a starting pitcher.
Which team will Bourn be playing for in 2013?