Astros standout center fielder Michael Bourn hit .500 (7-for-14) with an RBI and two stolen bases over the weekend in Houston’s three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The 28-year-old Bourn, an NL All-Star selection in 2010 and two-time Gold Glove Award winner, brings a .301 batting average with 32 RBI, 24 doubles, seven triples and a major league-leading 37 stolen bases into Monday’s opener at St. Louis.
He has compiled a stellar nine-game hitting streak to kick off the second half of the season and continues to showcase confidence in the batter’s box, as evident with posting a .324 batting average in the month of June and a .353 mark so far in July.
With Houston reportedly looking to be “sellers” with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaching, it seems logical that Bourn would generate interest from playoff-caliber teams, considering he’s under club control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2012.
The Astros remain the subject of multiple trade rumors, but according to reports, general manager Ed Wade has a high asking price in return regarding two-time All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence, standout left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and Bourn.
Although Wade continues to take phone calls from playoff contenders looking to potentially work out a deal for either Pence or Rodriguez, an MLB source told joltleft.com that Bourn’s name isn’t coming up as much in discussions at this point.
Bourn has been linked to the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals over the last month, despite the Nats not being in playoff contention.
However, the Braves don’t represent an ideal fit, since they are in the market for a right-handed bat, while Washington may be turning their sights toward Minnesota Twins center fielder Denard Span after previously checking in on B.J. Upton and Bourn.
The speedy Bourn may arguably rank as the top defensive center fielder and base stealer in the big leagues, yet his weaknesses, combined with the fact that he’s about to get more expensive heading into the final year of arbitration, outweigh the positives and could be enough to turn away interested teams.
“I haven’t heard Michael Bourn’s name very much, other than writers who keep throwing it out there,” the MLB source said. “To me, he doesn’t make sense for the Braves. They already have Jordan Schafer and Nate McLouth from the left side of the plate. Atlanta is more interested in acquiring an impact, right-handed bat.
“I would be surprised if Washington is that gung-ho over Bourn, either. He’s about to get pretty expensive in salary arbitration.”
His .270 career batting average, .336 on-base percentage and reputation for striking out too much in the leadoff spot doesn’t match up well with Houston’s current asking price in terms of prospects.
“He is fast, a great defender and a solid base stealer,” the MLB source added. “Still, he strikes out a lot and only has a career .336 on-base percentage, which is not great for a leadoff guy.”
Regardless of whether Bourn ends up generating interest or not, anything is possible leading up to the final minute of the trade deadline.
He could get traded.
The Astros need to make logical decisions based on the best long-term interest of their organization, with the deadline on the horizon.
If a solid trade package for Bourn happens to fall into Wade’s lap, there’s a strong possibility that Houston will consent to the deal.
On the other hand, it may be worth it for the Astros to hold onto Bourn through next season and attempt to capitalize on him playing well in his final arbitration year heading into free agency.
Bourn could realistically fetch the Astros high Draft picks as a potential Type A or B free agent, especially with Scott Boras as his agent.
With Boras working behind the scenes, Bourn would likely decline an arbitration offer following the 2012 campaign in order to test the market with the hope of landing a lucrative, long-term contract.
Unless the Astros are “blown away” by trade offers, it’s better to keep the speedster patrolling center field for Houston in 2012.
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