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Report: Cleveland Indians win the Michael Bourn sweepstakes

Big League Stew

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Well, the Cleveland Indians obviously don't need Jose Canseco. The Tribe has landed spring training's last big prize, free agent outfielder Michael Bourn, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

The deal is for four years and $48 million, Rosenthal reports, with a $12 million option for a fifth year if Bourn reaches 550 plate appearances.

The speedy Bourn was a surprise free agent as pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. The Mets had been the favorites to land the 30-year-old, who was the eighth best free agent of 2012 on Yahoo! Sports' free-agent tracker.

Using WAR, Bourn's rating of 6.4 was 13th in all of baseball, higher even than fellow free agent B.J. Upton, who signed with the Atlanta Braves. Still, Bourn sat on the open market for longer than expected. People in the know assumed that agent Scott Boras was biding time and waiting (hoping?) for a team to make a big offer.

For the Indians, the Bourn signing puts the bow on what's been a surprisingly strong offseason. They signed Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds and traded for Drew Stubbs and Trevor Bauer. The sum of those moves should make Cleveland contenders in the AL Central.

New manager Terry Francona is quoted in first-day spring training reports saying he's as proud as he's even been to put on an Indians uniform this season. Now he's got one more reason to beam.

UPDATE: Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown breaks down the Bourn signing in more detail:

The Indians were slipping again toward irrelevance and perhaps in all-out free fall. They'd lost at least 93 games for the third time in four seasons. So little was working for a franchise that seems to get it together just often enough that its irrelevance, on the national landscape, is somewhat relevant.

An aggressive offseason was necessary, and general manager Chris Antonetti, backed by owner Larry Dolan, has improved a club that folded in the second half of 2012. The Indians have committed $104 million over the next four years to Swisher and Bourn alone, acquired a potential ace by trading Shin-Soo Choo for Trevor
Bauer, and took one-year shots on veterans Reynolds and Myers.

The Indians still aren't the Tigers, and might not be close. But, they're better. A solid winter makes them so. And Bourn makes them so, particularly at what is a very reasonable price.

Pitchers and catchers are reporting.
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