If fans are still wondering how the Indians came up with the cash to pay Michael Bourn, General Manager Chris Antonetti provided the answer Friday during a news conference to introduce the Indians’ new center fielder/leadoff batter.

After signing Nick Swisher for $56 million, Brett Myers for $7 million and Mark Reynolds for $6 million, it appeared the cupboard was bare. That’s also what Antonetti thought.

“At that point I didn’t think we’d be able to make a commitment of this magnitude,” he said, referring to Bourn’s $48 million, four-year guaranteed deal. “But the Dolans were willing to make an investment. This was an opportunity to acquire a great player. They stretched. They made a substantial investment.”

In other words, the money wasn’t part of the budget, but owners Larry and Paul Dolan dug a little deeper. Maybe they got a bargain. Media reports earlier in the winter indicated that Bourn’s agent, Scott Boras, was seeking a contract worth much more than $48 million.

The rumors were unconfirmed, but three months ago, one media outlet speculated that Bourn was seeking a contract worth as much as $100 million. Maybe, maybe not. The Braves wanted to keep Bourn and made a one-year qualifying offer of $13.3 million, which Boras declined.

After that, it appeared that the New York Mets were Bourn’s most persistent pursuer, but in the end they chose not to forfeit a first-round draft pick (11th overall) and refused to offer Bourn a vested option (550 plate appearances) that would increase the value of the deal to $60 million for a fifth season. Like the Tribe, the Mets apparently offered Bourn $48 million for four years.

So the Dolans and Antonetti stepped up to the plate, making their first serious approach during the winter meetings, according to Boras.

“We talked [with Antonetti and club president Mark Shapiro] for two hours, and we talked about ownership,” Boras said. “I felt a dynamic that was very different … I felt they were ready to make a free-agent addition to make this a competitive and winning team.