The MLB offseason may be a ways away, but one key player that could find his way to Washington over the winter is sending serious signs he may be available for the right price.
Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Bourn is unlikely to re-sign with his current team because his asking price may be too high. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe first reported the news citing a pessimistic Braves club who reportedly "aren't holding out much hope" to retain the two-time All-Star.
Bourn is enjoying perhaps his best season and fits a need for the Nats as a leadoff hitting center fielder. He hits for a good average, steals bases, and plays stellar defense. He also happens to be a client of Scott Boras.
The Nationals will have money to spend, but it could come down to simply finding a place for Bourn in the lineup. He fits a logical need, but if he joins the outfield Michael Morse would likely have to move to the infield. Morse to the infield would force a decision between he and Adam LaRoche, who with a team option for 2013, has been the team's most consistent bat this season.
LaRoche has proven invaluable this year for the team and is better defensively than Morse. He is also a left-handed bat, although Bourn hits lefty as well.
All things considered equal, Bourn would fit nicely in the outfield with Bryce Harper and Morse. But Jayson Werth carries the team's biggest contract and because of that likely has a secure place in the lineup. His salary escalates to 16 million in 2013 and goes up to 20 million the following year. Harper is also going nowhere.
If Bourn is signed by Washington dominoes will surely fall, they would likely trade one of their players away or part with LaRoche via free agency. It could come down to money and how long of a deal Bourn wants.
Bourn, 29, is hitting .291 this season with a career-high nine home runs, 50 RBI (second most in career), and a National League-best 30 stolen bases. That sure sounds good placed at the top of the Nationals' lineup, but signing him wouldn't exactly be an easy decision for general manager Mike Rizzo. Signing Bourn would, however, weaken perhaps the Nats' biggest threat in the division for years to come.