Michael Bourn is planning to decline the Atlanta Braves' qualifying offer before Friday's deadline, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The qualifying offer, a $13.3 million one-year deal, is too scant for Bourn and his agent, Scott Boras. They will hit the open market in search of a lucrative multi-year deal. If he signs elsewhere, the Braves will receive a compensatory draft pick in the supplemental first round of next June's draft.
The Braves acquired Bourn at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in 2011. He hit .275/.341/.381 and stole 64 bases in 952 total plate appearances for Atlanta. He also made the All-Star team this past season.
The Braves could still work out a deal to keep Bourn, but that could prove challenging. The speedy outfielder will likely be one of the hottest commodities on the free agent market. There are a number of center fielders on the market this winter, including B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino and Angel Pagan, but Bourn is widely considered the best among them.