Friday, December 11, 2009

Should the Mets Offer Jason Bay Five Years?

The Mets finally got involved in the free agent market by making a formal offer to Jason Bay yesterday:
A Mets spokesman confirmed they made an offer to Bay. ESPN's Buster Olney reports it is for four years and between $60 million and $65 million, according to sources close to negotiations. Boston would like to re-sign Bay, but is also weighing left fielder Matt Holliday as an alternative.

The Mets had been focused on pitching, but with the Los Angeles Angels indicating they had "more pressing needs" than pursuing a left fielder, general manager Omar Minaya has moved aggressively toward adding Bay.
While it's great to see the Mets try and make a big splash on the market, there are plenty of indications that a four year deal will not be enough for Bay. According to this WEEI piece, whatever team that signs Bay will have to go five years:
"Through the meetings, there has been no evidence of formal offers for Bay. One official of a club that has checked in with Urbon believes that the outfielder has yet to receive an offer of more than four years. As such, the official believed that a club that proved willing to extend its offer to a fifth year would win the negotiations for the left fielder. Whether or not a team proves willing to extend that far for the 31-year-old remains to be seen."
There are two distinct ways to look at the Mets situation with Jason Bay.
  • Scenario 1: The Mets need an impact bat and Jason Bay is one of the best hitters out there on the open market. In order to get the top hitters to come to Citi Field, the Mets might have to give a little more than other teams (i.e money or years) until the "Citi Field is the death of all power hitters" myth is concretely proven untrue. It makes sense for the Mets to go five years for Bay in the short term because this is a team that's built to win now and bringing in a guy like Bay would increase the Mets chances of winning in 2010. Sure we might pay for this deal down the road, but the focus has to be on winning now. And even though the Mets play in a huge ballpark, they do need power hitters if they are going to be contenders.
  • Scenario 2: Yes Jason Bay is one of the premier power hitters on the open market, but that doesn't mean the Mets should run out and offer him five years. Bay is a potential liability in left field and by the time a five year deal would be over, Bay would be 36 years old, which means that a few years into the contract, Bay could be on the decline. In addition, we all know that Bay is a great power hitter, but how will he fare playing 81 games a year at Citi Field? If the Mets are going to sign Bay, it has to be for our price because this signing is no slam dunk for the Mets and Omar Minaya and we have to be careful not to bid against ourselves in these negotiations.
I think Bay would be a great fit for the Mets, but because his market is so bad and the fact that his defense is poor, I'd hesitate to give him five years. That said, I'd feel more comfortable signing Bay to a 4 year/$72 million (fifth year $18 million dollar vesting option) dollar contract with a vesting option, which would blow the Red Sox offer out of the water and give Bay the opportunity for a fifth year if he stays healthy and productive.

****Should the Mets sign Jason Bay? Is a 4 year offer with a $18 mil vesting option going to get it done?****

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