Miami Marlins: Michael Bourn and the Must-Trade Clause


Today is the last day of January and a player that ESPN’s Keith Law ranked as the fourth best free agent, still has still not found a team to sign with. That player would be Michael Bourn, whom played with the Atlanta Braves in the 2012 season. Bourn posted a career high 6.4 WAR last season, with much of that being tied to his premium defense and speed in center field.

I believe that the Marlins need to give Scott Boras, Bourn’s agent, a call today and try to work out a way to sign the star center fielder.

How can Michael Bourn help the Marlins? Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I know what agent would be delusional enough to get involved with the Miami Marlins and their owner Jeffery Loria after last season’s free agent debacle? Loria lured Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes to take their talents to South Beach with verbal promises that he would not trade them. As we all know, with anything else Loria promises, that was a bunch of BS.

But what I am proposing today is completely different than any regular free agent signing.

Recently, I stumbled upon an idea, which was made half-jokingly, by Dave Cameron. Dave suggested last off-season, when Roy Oswalt was awaiting for a shot to pitch for a contending team, near his preferred geographic location. Cameron then suggested that Oswalt sign with a non-contender, instead of taking the first couple of months of the season off, to keep him in shape and then invoke a “must-trade” clause to get him traded to a contending team. This is what he had to say:

"So, here’s a thought – maybe Oswalt and his agent should invent the anti-no-trade clause. We’ll call it the Must Trade clause. Pick a team that could use a quality starter, plays in a pitcher’s park (in order to keep his value as high as possible), and isn’t expected to be a strong contender this year – say, for instance, the Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, or the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sign with them for something along the lines of the $8-$10 million for one year that Oswalt has reportedly been seeking from Texas or St. Louis."

That premise may have seemed a tad bit crazy when Cameron suggested it last season, and of course, as we know, the idea never came to fruition. Oswalt sat out the first month of the season and then latched on with the Rangers on May 29th.

The Marlins Front Office is very adamant that they will not give out a no-trade clause to any free agent signing, which is not a foreign idea, as many other teams in baseball have the same policy, including the Los Angeles Dodgers. The problem with the Marlins in that regard is that, while other teams may not give out a no-trade clause, they will likely also honor a player’s contract and keep them around for the duration of the contract.

The last four major free agents that the Marlins have signed, haved been shipped out after only one season with the team. The aforementioned Reyes and Buehrle, along with Heath Bell and Carlos Delgado, are those past four instances.

With that said, the Marlins could be beneficial to Michael Bourn and his agent in a differing way. Like Cameron suggested above, the Marlins could sign Bourn to a free agent deal, with an anti-trade clause, that would help Bourn get to play with a contender and get him the money he wants.

Here is my proposed idea:

  • Marlins sign Michael Bourn to a 5-year deal worth about $75 million.
  • The deal allows Bourn to opt out of his contract after his first season if he is not traded or does not like the situation in which he is traded into.

With Bourn declining a qualifying offer from the Braves, the Marlins would have to surrender a draft pick in order to sign Bourn. With the Marlins draft pick being in the top-10, the Marlins would surrender their second round pick.

After the Marlins complete this signing, the team can then contact some possible trade suitors. One of the teams that have shown some interest in Bourn this off-season includes the Texas Rangers.

I have come up with a scenario that makes some sense to me for a trade with the Rangers that could make plenty of sense for all three parties involved in a potential signing/trade.

Could the Marlins net Michael Olt in a sign and trade for Michael Bourn? Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

  • Marlins Receive: Mike Olt
  • Rangers Receive: Michael Bourn, 34th pick in MLB draft (Competitive Balance Lottery Draft)

So why does this deal make sense for each team?

First, for the Rangers, they can acquire a player in Bourn that could be a major piece to the team that should be a title contender in the 2013 season. The move would make sense with the recent news of outfielder Nelson Cruz‘s name coming up as a potential PED user, in the Miami New Times report, that came out Tuesday.

I know I will be questioned on why the Rangers would not just go out and sign Bourn themselves and keep star prospect Michael Olt, but in this scenario, the Rangers could keep their first round pick, as well as receive an additional pick that will come at the conclusion of the first round. The Rangers would essentially benefit two first round picks for Olt, as well as an established player in Bourn.

For the Marlins, this deal would net them a player that plays a position that the team lacks depth at in the organization, in third baseman Olt. The team would still be able to keep their first round pick and net a player that could step into a role with the Marlins immediately and make an impact.

Also, making this type of move could be a huge boost to the Marlins destroyed credibility. The team would prove to an agent like Scott Boras and future free agents that the Marlins Front Office can be trusted. It would not make Loria and his crew instantly forgiven for their missteps in the past, but it could be a move towards amending means with the Players Union.

I will agree, this is an out there idea and the likelihood of anything like it happening would be extremely low, but none the less, it was an idea that crossed my mind recently and I wanted to see what other people would react to it.

Please leave your comments below and let me know what you think.