ATLANTA -- As expected, Michael Bourn has rejected the Braves' qualifying offer. Friday's procedural move guarantees that the Braves will receive Draft pick compensation if Bourn signs with another club.
Bourn stands as one of the most attractive options in a relatively thin free-agent market this year. If he does opt to sign with another team, the Braves will receive a selection during the compensation round, which separates the first and second rounds of the 2013 Draft.
The signing club will lose a first-round pick unless it is one of the Draft's first 10 selections. In that event, the club would lose its second-round selection.
There was certainly no reason to think Bourn would accept the qualifying offer, which was a one-year deal worth $13.3 million. With the Phillies, Nationals and Reds believed to be among his top suitors, he could receive a five-year contract worth approximately $80 million.
While the Braves will continue to evaluate the possibility of re-signing Bourn, they are looking at a number of other options on the free-agent and trade markets. They have a little more than $25 million to spend with a rather narrow focus.
If a third baseman is not available, Martin Prado will move to third base and the Braves will attempt to acquire two outfielders this winter.
While Josh Hamilton will likely be too expensive, B.J. Upton, Nick Swisher or Bourn appear to be the outfielders the Braves could most likely land via free agency. Angel Pagan aided his cause with a strong postseason. But he is viewed as a secondary piece who will likely return to the Giants.
Bourn hit .274 with a career-high nine home runs, 42 stolen bases and a .739 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) this past season. On the downside, he batted .225 with a .335 on-base percentage after the All-Star break and struck out 155 times as a leadoff hitter.
To put that in perspective, Dan Uggla set the Braves franchise record with 156 strikeouts in 2011 and then broke his own record with 168 strikeouts this past season.
Bourn has proven to be one of the game's top basestealers and defensive outfielders over the past few years. But with his 30th birthday approaching in December, there could be some concern about his potential production during the latter years of a five-year contract.