Adding Michael Bourn is not going to make the Braves make up five games on the Phillies, but it was a masterful move all the same. Simply a great trade for Atlanta any way you look at it.
First Bourn: he’s an elite center fielder, obviously. You can look at the gold gloves if you want to, though I don’t advise it. Look instead at the advanced defensive metrics which suggest that he’s easily the best defensive center fielder in the National League and, short of Franklin Gutierrez, probably the best in baseball. He is also an elite base runner, successful in 83% of his stolen base attempts in his career.
That glove and those legs have allowed him to more than make up for a fair-at-best bat these past few years, but this season has been an offensive breakthrough for him, as he’s hitting .303/.363/.403. His on base percentage is up, mostly because he has been a bit hit-lucky this year, but his power numbers are interesting. He has never been a home run hitter and still isn’t, but he already has more doubles and triples this season than he had all of last year.
So, acquiring Bourn is clearly a great move for Atlanta, who was in desperate need of an outfielder, especially a center fielder. What’s crazy though is just how great a deal they got for him.
While I have seen some commentary this morning about how the Braves are “high on Jordan Schafer,” I think the best way to take that is that they’re high on him in much the same way you might get high on a hallucinatory drug. He is clearly overmatched by major league pitching and has shown no real progress in that regard over the past few years. None of the prospects involved — Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu — are top tier guys. And the fact that the Astros are sending the Braves money in this deal is borderline criminal.
When I saw the good deal that the Phillies got for Hunter Pence — likewise not having to give up their best prospects — I sighed “well, there goes Ed Wade, playing favorites with his old employer again.” Guess Wade decided to share the wealth with the Braves as well.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.