Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mets could get Bay by default

Desperately needing to make a major move to excite their base, the New York Mets have made a solid offer to free-agent outfielder Jason Bay. The offer from GM Omar Minaya is reportedly for four years and about $65 million while Bay's agent apparently is holding out for a five-year deal. But the Mets should stand firm as Bay's options appear limited. Bay can't even fall back on the Seattle Mariners now that they have traded for Milton Bradley. If I were Bay, I would take the Mets offer and run, given the way the offseason is developing.

The pitchers have done quite well this offseason, led by John Lackey's $82.5 million pact with the Boston Red Sox and Roy Halladay's three-year, $60 million extension with the Philadelphia Phillies (he probably could have done even better, but opted for a quick resolution and a one-way ticket out of Toronto).
But their fielders are finding themselves mostly squeezed by economic conditions. It has become clear that most position players will not get the contracts they or their agents think they deserve. Johnny Damon, with the help of agent Scott Boras, priced himself out of the Bronx. Boras came into the offseason talking about how Matt Holliday deserves Mark Teixeira money (8 years, about $180 million). But without the New York Yankees, Red Sox or even the Mets as active bidders for Holliday, those dollars are out of reach. A favorite guessing game right now is which free agent, Holliday or Bay, will blink first and accept what are pretty reasonable contract offers.

Of course, getting Bay in this way may turn out to be a negative for the Mets. Players unhappy with their contracts have a way of moping that can drag down an entire team (Gary Sheffield during his many big-league stops). But Bay seems to be a good guy and we know he's not intimidated playing in a big market so overall I think the deal would work out well for the Mets. All they have to do is get him to sign on the dotted line. Of course, their base will say "Ok, what's next?" Minaya and company probably don't even know the answer to that.
Thanks to Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the photo.

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