Mets general manager Sandy Alderson revealed that he offered Michael Bourn basically the same four-year, $48 million contract that the speedy center fielder ended up signing with the Indians.
So why did Bourn choose Cleveland over New York? Because the Indians also gave him a fifth-year team option for 2017 that vested at $12 million with 550 plate appearances in 2016 and Alderson was unwilling to include that in the Mets’ offer.
“We viewed [it] as a fifth year in the contract at the levels we were talking about or that they were talking about,” Alderson told Jorge Castillo of the Newark Star Ledger. “And we weren’t prepared to go to five years and they had known that for some time so the vest was a big issue for us.”
Trying to predict how many plate appearances a 33-year-old Bourn would get in 2016 is tough, but the fact that he’s racked up 703, 722, 605, and 678 in the past four seasons suggests he’d top 550 if healthy. Toss in the Mets’ reluctance to forfeit the 11th overall pick in the draft to sign Bourn and Alderson’s reasoning for not matching the Indians’ entire offer is pretty clear.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
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.