As the market for center fielders dwindles, the Seattle Mariners loom as one possibility for Michael Bourn.
At least on the surface.
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.”
Not to mention that Bourn would displace center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, another of Zduriencik’s long-term investments that did not work out well for the club.
Bourn, who turns 30 on Dec. 27, is about a year younger than Figgins was at the time of his deal. Figgins batted .227 with a .585 OPS in his three years with the Mariners, and the team released him last month.
Is it fair to take a negative view of Bourn because Figgins failed in Seattle? Of course not. But if you’re Zduriencik, you probably would be hesitant to sign the same type of player again.
Meanwhile, an entirely different factor might be shaping the Mariners’ thinking this offseason and driving their pursuit of Hamilton:
The M’s have suffered the biggest 10-year attendance drop of any team in the four major professional sports leagues, according to a report by 24/7 Wall Street.
Attendance has fallen 51.7 during that time, the report said, and season-ticket sales have fallen 61 percent.
The Mariners, coming off three straight losing seasons, need to start winning again. Soon.
— Ken Rosenthal