Braves unlikely to re-sign center fielder Michael Bourn

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Braves outfielder Michael Bourn has registered an impressive .291/.352/.424 slash line with 29 stolen bases and a career-high nine home runs over 524 plate appearances this season. But the impending free agent probably won’t be back in Atlanta in 2013.

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Braves “aren’t holding out much hope that they can re-sign Bourn when he becomes a free agent” because the asking price will likely be too high.

Bourn, a client of super agent Scott Boras, was named an All-Star for the second time in his career back in July.

He’s an elite defender and should command a sizable contract on a free agent market that looks to be weak.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.