It’s easy to forget after the flurry of activity that has filled the past couple weeks, including a trade that brought Mike Morse to Seattle and John Jaso to future free agent purgatory, a signing of Kelly Shoppach, a signing of Felix Hernandez to an extension, a signing of Joe Saunders, and a potential hiccup in the Felix extension, that at one time, the Mariners were in on everybody.
It really didn’t matter, pitcher or hitter. The Mariners were in on everybody. It became frustrating when they seemed inactive and even more frustrating when they were rumored to be in on Michael Bourn. Bourn was worth 6.4 WAR last year, and more than four wins in each of the previous three seasons, but so much of it was based on average-ish hitting and elite defense and baserunning ability that Mariners fans saw the two reasonable outcomes of Bourn as either Chone Figgins or Franklin Gutierrez. Gutierrez may be healthy this year, and he may not be, but even if he loses a limb in preseason the Mariners have Michael Saunders on the roster. Saunders played an average center field last year while hitting above average also.
But as Bourn’s free agency extended into February, he looked like he may have to settle for something like a one-year deal, and the Mariners rumors persisted.
If they’d signed him they’d have given up their first round pick. If they signed Bourn for the four years, $48 million he signed for in Cleveland they’d have had a second chance to see how a no-power, good defense, high-speed skill set aged, but in the case of Bourn, they’d have to watch him strikeout a fair amount also.
Bourn is better than Saunders and healthier than Gutierrez, but he’s not so much better that the questions about how he’ll age and how that influences both his offense and defense warranted paying significant money for him, as well as a first round pick.