After seeing the market for his services dwindle for nearly the entire offseason, Michael Bourn has finally found a home.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Bourn has agreed to a contract with the Indians. The deal is worth $48 million over four years and includes a vesting option for a fifth year which could push the total to $60 million.
Bourn originally hoped to land a deal north of the five-year, $75.25 million contract B.J. Upton signed with the Braves, so this looks like a relative bargain in comparison. Still, Scott Boras deserves credit for getting a pretty good deal for his client given the circumstances. While the Mets were reluctant to give up their first-round pick (11th overall) and draft pool money to sign Bourn, Cleveland’s first-round pick is protected. The Indians forfeited their second-round pick to sign Nick Swisher, so Jim Callis of Baseball America hears that they’ll give up their competitive balance pick (No. 69 overall) to bring Bourn into the fold.
The Indians were mentioned as a possibility for Bourn as recently as last week, so this doesn’t come completely out of nowhere. However, it seemed like a long shot at the time given that Swisher, Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs were already in-house for the outfield. It’s a pretty good bet that Bourn, Swisher and Brantley will be in the lineup on most days, though Swisher and Mark Reynolds could alternate between first base/DH duties, opening up a spot for the speedy Stubbs in right. The Indians could also explore trades involving Stubbs. All in all, it’s a pretty nice problem to have. I don’t think the Indians have enough pitching to threaten the Tigers in the AL Central, but it looks like Terry Francona’s first year as skipper will be an interesting one.
UPDATE: According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets also made a four-year, $48 million offer to Bourn. However, they were informed that it would take an arbitrator two to three weeks to decide whether they would be able to keep their first-round pick. And with spring training approaching, Bourn just wasn’t willing to wait that long, so he took the Indians’ deal.
After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.
The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).
Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.
With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.
Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.
With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.