With Bourn's asking price reportedly higher than the $75 million B.J. Upton received from the Braves, where does this leave him? If there's a declining market for his services, does he end up signing for less than Upton money? Let's look at possible destinations:
The potential landing spots for free agent outfielder Michael Bourn are dwindling.
1. Mariners: Everyone knows Seattle needs a bat, and the Mariners have reportedly been in on Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher and Bourn. Of course, Bourn is more glove and legs than bat, and general manager Jack Zduriencik has to be scared silly that Bourn could morph into Chone Figgins II, a speed guy who suddenly stops hitting in his early 30s. The Mariners do have Franklin Gutierrez (one more year under contract) and Michael Saunders, who can both play center, so I would guess the priority would be Hamilton or Swisher. But if Hamilton heads back to Texas and Swisher prefers a contending team, the Mariners might just dump their money into Bourn.
2. Reds: The Reds still have Drew Stubbs and are also looking to fill left field (maybe bringing back Ryan Ludwick). Bourn makes sense for them because they need a leadoff hitter, but the $75 million price tag would still be steep. I see the Reds getting in this only if the market for Bourn collapses.
3. Giants: The Giants could sign Bourn and move Angel Pagan to left field, but after signing Pagan and Marco Scutaro, the Giants appear done with their spending. Plus, Brian Sabean's usual plan is to fill holes with midseason acquisitions rather than free agents -- see Pat Burrell, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence and Scutaro in recent seasons.
4. Brewers: They were rumored to be interested in Hamilton at one point. While they do have Carlos Gomez, Bourn would be an upgrade both at the plate and in the field, giving them a nice outfield of Ryan Braun, Bourn and Norichika Aoki, with Aoki moving down to the No. 2 slot in the batting order. But if the Brewers spend anything this winter, it seems more likely they would spend to upgrade their rotation.
5. Indians: They've reportedly made pitches to Swisher, so it seems they have some money in the budget. Michael Brantley is a solid center fielder and his bat profiles better there than in a corner, so Bourn isn't really the best fit.
6. Yankees: They could sign Bourn and move Curtis Granderson to right field. But it appears the Yankees are suddenly cost-conscious and will wait for the scraps to fill right field.
7. Mets: Right now, the Mets' center fielder is Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is more fourth outfielder than major league starter. Considering the Mets seem to have problems coming up with money to extend R.A. Dickey, Bourn is unlikely.
8. Marlins: Well, we know they have money. What we don't know is if they really want to spend it, especially on a guy who is turning 30.
9. Rangers: Even if Hamilton signs with the Mariners or somewhere else, I don't see the Rangers going here. For one thing, Hamilton is more likely to play left field anyway, with Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin platooning in center. If they lose Hamilton, the more likely scenario is an all-out pursuit of Justin Upton.
At this point, why would a team bid up on Bourn? The teams that needed a center fielder the most have filled the position. Everyone is sort of waiting for the Hamilton-Zack Greinke dominoes to fall, but in doing so, Bourn might have cost himself a lot of money. If I had to guess his final destination, I'd pick Seattle -- with Greinke signing with the Dodgers and Hamilton heading back to Texas -- with the wild-card scenario being what Eric Karabell suggested on the Baseball Today podcast: Bourn signs a one-year deal and heads back on to the market next year.