The Chicago Cubs have had conversations with free agent centerfielder Michael Bourn's agent, according to a major league source.
Bourn, whose agent, Scott Boras, will be seeking more than $100 million for the speedy outfielder, may not be an obvious fit for the rebuilding Cubs, but they would be looking at him much the same way the Washington Nationals viewed Jayson Werth. The Nationals made a statement two years ago when they overpaid the marketplace in order to establish a winning mentality before the team was ready to win .
The Cubs might view a player like Bourn as a leadoff man and centerfielder who could add runs on offense and take them away in the outfield. Farm system players such as Brett Jackson and Jorge Soler are not ready to make an impact on the Cubs roster, making the team buyers this offseason.
“We do have to address our outfield and we will look to do that,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said in a phone conference with reporters on Friday. “We like our prospects, but when they are as far away as some of those guys are you can’t think about those guys. You have to think about your team now.”
At 31, Bourn is still an impact leadoff man who has led the league in stolen bases three times. With 42 stolen bases and a league-leading 383 putouts last season with the Atlanta Braves, the multi-talented veteran would bring the numbers and the clubhouse leadership that could help the Cubs begin to turn the corner after a 101-loss season.
The Cubs have a lot of payroll flexibility with more than $50 million coming off the books from the 2012 season. The team has around $75 million in payroll commitments for 2013.
Neither the Cubs nor Boras would comment on Bourn when contacted.
“There are a number of players we will be talking to over the next few weeks,” Hoyer said in his media phone conference.