Bourn would have slotted into center field for the Mets. Credit: Getty Images Bourn would have slotted into center field for the Mets.
Credit: Getty Images

The Mets will have to piece together an outfield from spare parts after all.

Free agent centerfielder Michael Bourn has signed a four-year, $48 million deal with the Indians, according to multiple reports.

The Mets were unlikely to have been able to match a contract for that amount of money or years. It was still likely a long shot, but the team did publicly express interest in the outfielder. The issue for the Mets was that signing Bourn would result in losing their first-round pick to the Braves as compensation.

 

According to MLB rules, elite free agents — as Bourn was graded by the league — require the surrendering of a first-round pick to sign, unless the pick is in the Top 10 in the draft. The Mets' original pick was No. 10, meaning they would've only had to surrender their second-round pick, but they were bumped down to No. 11 when the Pirates were unable to sign last year's first-round pick, pitcher Mark Appel.

There had been rumors the Mets would challenge the ruling and hope to be considered to have a Top-10 pick due to the technicality. The New York Post reported late Monday the ruling would've taken "two to three weeks" to be made.

The process never made it that far, however.

Bourn, 30, played for the Braves the past year and half where he developed into a capable leadoff hitter. He had an average of .275 with a .341 on-base percentage during his time in Atlanta. He spent the previous three and a half years in Houston. He has always been one of the preeminent base stealers in the league, leading the NL in stolen bases three straight seasons from 2009-11.

The Mets have yet to formalize an outfield as they piece together minor leaguers and veteran players. The team has Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin, all of whom were developed in their system and saw time last season with varying success. The team also signed Marlon Byrd and Colin Cowgill in the offseason as veterans.

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.

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