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On Michael Bourn

The outfielders are dropping off the free agent market and the Phillies need one. Michael Bourn is still available. But at what cost?

Charlie Manuel was asked about what he thought the No.1 priority was for the Phillies this winter, a winter in which management has stood on the sidelines so far rather than aggressively attack the free agent market.

"The No. 1 priority is probably center field," Manuel said Wednesday at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

Asked to explain what he was looking for in that player, Manuel emphasized defense. The first name he mentioned was a guy who played for him as a rookie, before he was traded away.

Michael Bourn.

Fittingly, Scott Boras, Bourn's agent, was holding court outside of the room where Manuel was holding his own press gathering.

Outfielders have been paid well this winter (see Shane Victorino, B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan). So how does that market impact Bourn?

"I think the value of a player is representative to his standing among his peers," Boras said. "So when you take out the metrics of the game and the performance… the great thing about Michael is his consistency is greater than all. His defensive acumen is, there's just a huge separation between him and every other player at that position.

"And offensively he provides the leadoff spot. And I think if you have center field, and you have leadoff... there aren't many of those in the game. And those all add premiums to him that most of the other players in the market don't have."

Translation: Boras still expects Bourn to get more than the 5 years, $75.25 million that Upton received from Atlanta.

Since the Phils were outbid by the Braves for Upton, it doesn't seem likely they're a fit for Bourn either. But with two months until spring training, perhaps there is time for things to change.