Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Market for Jason Bay Stinks

Six days ago, I profiled the market for Jason Bay. At the time, the market for Bay consisted of the Red Sox and whole bunch of question marks as no team had stepped up as the primary suitor for Bay.

Since then, the market for Jason Bay has taken a dramatic shift. The Red Sox, who were the team that I thought would land Bay, are now thought to be out of the running to sign the slugger after signing John Lackey and Mike Cameron. In addition, the Mets offered Bay a contract, thought to be in the four year/$65 million dollar range, which is more than the Red Sox initial offer, but less than what Bay's camp is looking for. The goal for Bay and his agent Joe Urbon has been to secure a five year pact, which might be difficult given how poor the market for Bay is.

The only sign that we have gotten so far that Bay might land a 5 year deal is that a "mystery team" supposedly offered Bay a 5 year contract. Take that report for what it's worth. The teams that would seem to be the best fits for Bay-Angels, Mariners, Giants, Yankees-have all publically shied away from Jason Bay:
  • Angels: "They spoke with the agent for free agent Jason Bay at the winter meetings. But one source indicated afterward that Bay wasn't on their radar screen "at all" despite that conversation."
  • Mariners: "Meanwhile, in the case of other players Seattle had been linked to Tuesday, the team did not appear to be seriously pursuing outfielder Jason Bay or reliever Darren Oliver..."
  • Giants: "He emphasized that the Giants have no desire to overspend on any player, explaining their absence from the Matt Holliday and Jason Bay sweepstakes."
  • Yankees: "The Yankees have no interest in signing Bay to a long-term contract, the New York Daily News reported on Tuesday, not wanting to commit more than $60 million to another outfielder."

Of course, those statements can change in a heartbeat. Besides the Mets, the only other team that I can realistically point to as a destination for Bay is Seattle (who have actually been linked to Bay in the past few days). Not only do the Mariners need a power hitter,but Bay is from Vancouver and seems to want to play in Seattle. If the Mariners decide to actively pursue Bay, I'm fairly certain that they would be able to sign him. But do the Mariners have enough money to comfortably fork over $15-$17 million dollars annually to Bay? In addition, given their emphasis on defense, Bay does not look like a fit for the Mariners given his defensive struggles over the years in left field.

So as it stands right now, the market for Jason Bay is as follows: the Mets, a mystery team, maybe the Mariners, and a whole lot of question marks. We'll see if Bay is able to build a stronger market for his services in the coming days and hopefully create a bidding war for his services, which would help ensure a fifth year. But it looks like teams are more concerned with not overpaying for Jason Bay than they are with actually landing Jason Bay.

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