Waiting Till Next Year: 2014 Outfielder Free Agent Breakdown

Big debate raging over Michael Bourn. Some who oppose signing him include in their arguments something along the lines of "he's just not the right FA - get a better one next year."

Not an unreasonable view as long as there are better options next off-season. Are there? I'll let you decide. Here are some of the top guys with some comments from my own personal peanut gallery of one.

Center Fielders

Jacoby Ellsbury -

Age opening day 2014: 30 (9/11/83)

Career fWAR to date: 18.7

Last 3 fWAR: 1.5 9.4 -0.2

Games played last three seasons: 250

If healthy and he gets back to 2011 form you've got a potential star. But he's missed lot's of time 2 of the 3 past years. Is that really any less uncertain than those concerned w/Bourn losing D value as he hits 30 - the same age Ells will be next season? If Ells posts a strong 2013 he'll likely command more years/$'s than Bourn will now. If he doesn't he's a huge risk - bigger risk (to me at least) than Bourn is now. And he'll very likely cost a 1st round pick.

Curtis Granderson -

Age opening day 2014: 33 (3/16/81)

Career fWAR to date: 33.3

Last 3 fWAR: 2.6 7.0 3.6

Games played last three seasons: 452

Has stayed on the field better than most of the other options. He'll be 33 at the beginning of the 2014 season. If you think Bourn is too old to be part of the Mets next win-window can you possibly find Granderson a better fit? If he pops another 30+ dingers in Yankee Stadium he'll get paid. More than Bourn probably. Huge slide defensively, and 2 of 3 last years he's been 2.6 & 3.6 fWAR - that's a shadow of Bourn's last 4 seasons.

Carlos Gomez -

Age opening day 2014: 28 (12/4/85)

Career fWAR to date: 10.2

Last 3 fWAR: 3.5 2.0 0.7

Games played last three seasons: 328

He's a much less proven commodity than Bourn though he'll be 2 years younger in 2014 than Bourn is now. If Cargo has a super season he'll likely land a long pricey contract and there will be heavy competition for him - we might not get him even if we want him. If he doesn't turn in a strong season why would we want him?

Coco Crisp -

Age opening day 2014: 34 (11/1/79)

Career fWAR to date: 26.9

Last 3 fWAR: 2.9 2.2 2.2

Games played last three seasons: 331

He'll be 34. Anyone who argues Bourn is too old to be part of the Mets future would probably want to pass on Coco no matter how Crispy a 2013 he posts.

Corner Outfielders

Martin Prado

Age opening day 2014: 31 (10/27/1983)

Career fWAR to date: 15.8

Last 3 fWAR: 5.9 1.6 4.3

Games played last three seasons: 425

It's being reported the D-backs are negotiating an extension with him. If not, he's okay but is he markedly better than Bourn? I'd like to hear arguments he is because I can't make one.

UPDATE: Prado has signed an extension with the D-backs so he is off the list.

Shin Soo-Choo

Age opening day 2014: 31 (7/13/1982)

Career fWAR to date: 19.3

Last 3 fWAR: 2.6 1.5 6.1

Games played last three seasons: 388

Just acquired in a trade by the Reds. Boras client. Might be interesting but he's another guy a) will be older next season than Bourn is now, b) has not performed as well as Bourn over the past 3 seasons, c) has missed a chunk of time to the DL and d) could well cost a 1st round pick.

Here are the other guys not too much older than Bourn - add one to get their age Opening Day 2014:

Ben Francisco (32)
Austin Kearns (34)
Nate McLouth (32)
Mike Morse (32)
David Murphy (32)
Laynce Nix (33)
Ryan Raburn (33)
Nelson Cruz (33)
Chris Denorfia (33)
Jeff Francoeur (30)
Corey Hart (32)
Nyjer Morgan (33)
Hunter Pence (31)
Tony Gwynn Jr. (31)

Guys who will probably have options picked up unless they totally suck in 2013:

Chris Young (30) - $11MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout

Franklin Gutierrez (31) - $7.5MM club option with a $500K buyout

Jason Kubel (32) - $7.5MM club option with a $1MM buyout

So a couple of thoughts:

  • If you believe we are going to need 2 outside outfielders it's very hard to imagine picking up two free agents equal to or better than Bourn next off-season. In fact, there's a good chance we won't be able to land one. That's a reason to consider getting one this off-season.
  • If we can't find a FA or two, we'll have to trade away prospects for an outfielder unless we get a breakout youngin' this season. Start revising the list of prospects you're willing to part with.
  • Any of the top 3-4 guys are likely to get qualifying offers unless they stink it up in 2013. If so, we'd again be facing the prospect of losing our 1st round draft pick. So Bourn is likely no better or worse than going FA next off-season. Unless you want to sign a guy who's just not nearly as good as Bourn.

There are few "slam-dunk" players and Bourn is not one of those few. But flaws are abundant in many of next season's top FA OFers. They've either been injured, inconsistent, older than Bourn or just not been as good.

The Mets are in a division with two powerful clubs who are young enough to look strong through the next Mets win-window. Bourn could prove a disaster, but barring a breakout from an internal OF option this season we'll be hard pressed to avoid a crappy 2014 barring real outside help. That's either going to cost money and a draft pick or an arm(s) you'd prefer to keep. It's kind of a pick your poison situation. Bourn is not without risk but simply saying "wait a year for someone better than Bourn" is a strategy fraught with risk.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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