In an already incredibly abnormal off-season, the Indians are now going for broke after signing free agent outfielder Michael Bourne to a four year $48M contract. This fills their hole at designated hitter (by moving Nick Swisher out of right field) and gives them three starting outfielders who were center fielders last year. Bourne immediately becomes the fastest of the bunch and may take over the center field spot from incumbent Michael Brantley and newcomer Drew Stubbs. Bourne has lead the National League in steals in three of the last four seasons and has never stole less than 40 bases in a season where he played more than 105 games.
While the Indians starting rotation is still very questionable, this move should complete the offense as the Indians had already signed Mark Reynolds and Swisher to fill the other major holes. The outfield in particular should be very exciting as the Indians will probably carry four career centerfielders on the roster (Ezequiel Carrera in addition to the three starters) all of whom are slick with the glove. Bourne is the only Gold Glover of the bunch, however, winning in both 2009 and 2010. His arm is also impressive and he has 37 outfield assists in his seven seasons as a centerfielder.
If there is one drawback to the Indians signings it is that all the new players strike out at extremely high rates. Bourne is no exception to this as he strikes out in more than 20% of his at bats, but the fact is that the old Indians struck out a lot as well, but did so without scoring very many runs. At least the new group (Reynolds, Swisher, Stubbs and Bourne) are all high level veteran players who have been productive for years.
The Indians have never spent this much money in a single offseason in recent memory and all the spending (in addition to the hiring of World Series winning manager Terry Francona instead of the home town favorite Sandy Alomar) shows that the Indians are not content to sit by and wait for the next rebuilding phase. The Indians are going all in for 2013 (and at least the three years after that). Now it is just up to the players to show they deserve their millions and for the fans to show up in enough force to pay them.