When baseball's offseason began, Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn were arguably the two most attractive free agent hitters on the market. Neither player has signed as of the first week in December, and the Mariners have been linked to both in recent days.
Multiple reports are indicating Seattle has plenty of interest in Josh Hamilton. He would provide the lineup with some much-needed punch, and he could potentially lure other hitters to the M's. If the 32-year-old outfielder decides to take his talents elsewhere this winter, Bourn would likely become the No. 1 target.
As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Friday, Bourn might not be such a great fit in Seattle.
The Mariners, if they fail to land outfielder Josh Hamilton, are still going to need offense. And Bourn is one of the best offensive players remaining on the open market, though certainly not a slugger like Hamilton.
Here's the problem:
Mariners general manager Jack Zdurienick erred when he signed infielder Chone Figgins, a speed player similar to Bourn, to a four-year, $36 million free-agent contract after the 2009 season.
Zduriencik, entering the final year of his own deal, might not want to risk "Chone II."
Bourn, who will turn 30 later this month, was one of baseball's better center fielders this past year. While there is no denying he would immediately provide the Mariners with a speed threat at the top of their lineup, Bourn will likely command at least a four-year deal, if not more.
As Rosenthal mentioned, players who rely heavily on their speed to be productive do not age well, and the last thing Seattle needs is another albatross contract on their payroll. It would be a high-risk, high-reward signing for the M's, and one that Zduriencik might not feel comfortable making (again).