Michael Bourn agrees with Indians
CLEVELAND -- Criticized for not spending enough on free agents in recent years, the Indians splurged on another star.
The club agreed to terms Monday with outfielder Michael Bourn on a four-year, $48 million contract. It's the second major deal this winter for the Indians, who signed free agent Nick Swisher to a four-year, $56 million contract in January.
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Bourn, who was an All-Star with Atlanta last season, must pass a physical later this week in Goodyear, Ariz., before the deal can be completed. Bourn batted .274 with nine homers, 57 RBIs and 42 steals last season for the Braves. It's not yet known when Bourn will have his medical exam.
As long as there isn't a hang-up, the 30-year-old Bourn, who has remained on the market all winter, will move into the Indians' starting lineup. He played center field last season and would give an immediate boost to a Cleveland team that has reloaded with the acquisition of Nick Swisher, manager Terry Francona and starter Brett Myers.
The Mets were chasing Bourn's services as well, offering the same four-year, $48 million deal as Cleveland, according to a major league source. However, the Mets were unwilling to give up the 11th overall pick in the draft as a penalty for signing the free agent, the source said.
The same source believes the Mets were Bourn's first choice.
Getting Bourn, a two-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner and three-time steals leader in the NL, will cost the Indians picks in June's amateur draft. But it's a small price for a player who will help them score more runs, improve their attendance -- Cleveland averaged just 19,797 fans at home -- and maybe even close the gap on Detroit in the AL Central.
The surprise signing caught one of Bourn's new teammates off guard.
"Did we just sign Michael Bourn?" second baseman Jason Kipnis asked on his Twitter page.
Bourn could wind up in a starting outfield alongside Swisher and Michael Brantley. The Indians also acquired center fielder Drew Stubbs in a trade with Cincinnati, giving Francona options and depth. It's possible Swisher could be moved to first or even be used as the club's designated hitter. Mark Reynolds, also signed during the offseason, can play first or DH.
The Indians collapsed in the second half last season, a fall that cost manager Manny Acta his job. Cleveland has lost at least 90 games in three of the past four seasons.
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin and The Associated Press was used in this report.