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Sox Will Pay if They Don’t Sign Bay

Jason Bay has reason to smile: he's about to make millions on the free agent market. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Five years, $75 to $80 million.

That’s likely what it will cost the Red Sox to retain left fielder Jason Bay. The 31-year-old, now officially a free agent, reportedly passed on a last minute, four-year, $60 million deal Thursday as Boston’s exclusive negotiating window inched shut.

In honor of the lengthy, costly contract agent Joe Urbon will be fishing for in free agent waters, here are the top five, multi-million-dollar reasons the Red Sox should bring Jason Bay back to the Back Bay.

$1,000,000: Bay can play in Bahston. Since being shipped to the Sox in the Manny Ramirez deal halfway through the 2008 season, Bay has done nothing but produce. While other high-priced free agents like Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo have withered under Boston’s intense media and fan spotlight, Bay has simply been Bay.

  • His career numbers: .280 AVG, .376 OBP, .896 OPS
  • In 1.5 years in Boston: .280 AVG, .377 OBP, .909 OPS

$2,000,000: Bay doesn’t become his feeble hitting doppelganger on the road. For the past few seasons, the Boston Red Sox, particularly in 2009, have looked more like the Pittsburgh Pirates on the road. In Fenway’s cozy confines, Boston went 56-25. On the road, they played under-.500 ball, posting a dismal 39-42 record. Those woes were directly linked to the team’s offense: at home, the Sox scored 481 runs; on the road, they managed just 391. Batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS all dropped significantly.

Dustin Pedroia, for example, boasted a .903 OPS at home, but just a .736 on the road.

Bay hit wherever the Sox played: .262 AVG, .362 OBP, .904 OPS, 21 HR, and 55 RBI away from Fenway.

$3,000,000: Bay steers the ship. No hitter more influenced the Sox overall offensive production than Bay. The left fielder played in 151 games—90 wins and 61 losses. In those wins, Bay hit for .310 AVG, .426 OBP, 1.065 OPS, 28 HR, and 94 RBI.

In the 61 losses: .203 AVG, .319 OBP, .701 OPS, 8 HR, 25 RBI.

$4,000,000: Bay hits when the Sox need it most. In 183 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, Bay was deadly, batting .360 with .492 OBP, 1.168 OPS, 10 HR, and 82 RBI.

The clutch hitting continued unabated with runners in scoring position and two outs: 94 plate appearances, .333 AVG, .511 OBP, 1.018 OPS, 2 HR, 29 RBI.

$5,000,000: Bay works the Yankees like Rocky Balboa works a slab of cattle. In 14 games against the Pinstripes, Bay hit .392 with a .475 OBP, 1.161 OPS, 3 HR, and 13 RBI. That includes a .400 average, .455 OBP, 1.205 OPS, 2 HR, and 5 RBI in five games at Yankee Stadium III.

That, my friends, is more priceless than anything Master Card can come up with.

Urbon will receive calls from the Mets, Angels, Mariners, and possibly the Yankees and Cardinals. The Sox had their chance to sign Bay last season, when they most likely could have landed him at their current four-year, $60 million offer. Now they’ll have to pay the price for not pulling the trigger.

The Biggest Reason the Sox Should Sign Bay

The alternatives.

Six to eight years, $110 to $140 million—and that might actually be on the low end.

Those are the types of numbers Scott Boras is throwing around when discussing his client, Matt Holliday. Boras compares Holliday to another one of his walking dollar signs, Mark Teixeira—the man who inked an eight-year, $180 million contract last season.

As much as Boras’ name triggers my gag reflex, a look at the career numbers indicates his comparison isn’t far off (Bay thrown in for good measure):

Mark Teixeira

Matt Holliday

Jason Bay

.290 AVG

.318 AVG

.280 AVG

.378 OBP

.387 OBP

.376 OBP

.923 OPS

.933 OPS

.896 OPS

37 HR, 122 RBI

29 HR, 112 RBI

33 HR, 107 RBI

Holliday is two years younger than Bay, and after a slow start playing for Oakland (.286, .378, .831, 11 HR, 54 RBI in 93 games), he went wild in St. Louis, hitting .353, .419 OBP, 1.023 OPS, 13 HR, 55 RBI in 63 games.

If the Sox want Holliday, they’ll have to pay for him, as the Mets (the second most valuable franchise in MLB) are already rumored to have a blue and orange Holliday jersey hanging in an empty locker.

Tangent: Personally, I’d be all for throwing the kitchen sink at Holliday, if the Sox can’t sign Bay. But considering the Sox wouldn’t overspend on Teixeira, I give them as much a chance of signing Holliday as signing Elvis.

And if the Sox fail in their pursuit of the top two free agent left fielders? Not good. Not good at all. Here’s a list of the other free agent alternatives that roam left field:

  • Garret Anderson (38) – Type B
  • Marlon Anderson (36)
  • Emil Brown (35)
  • Marlon Byrd (32) – Type B
  • Johnny Damon (36) – Type A
  • David Dellucci (36)
  • Cliff Floyd (37)
  • Joey Gathright (28)
  • Reed Johnson (33)
  • Greg Norton (37)
  • Wily Mo Pena (28)
  • Dave Roberts (38)
  • Gary Sheffield (41)
  • Fernando Tatis (35) – Type B
  • Marcus Thames (33)
  • Randy Winn (36) – Type B

Jason Bay can play in Boston, he hits in the clutch, he hits on the road, and he batters the Yankees. So give him what he wants, already. Otherwise, the Red Sox will pay a steep price, either financially or in regard to offensive production.

About Sharkey

I was 11 years old when the ball scooted through Buckner's wickets, a moment that is laser-etched in my mind: In my living room, on the floor in front of the TV, ready to burst as the Sox needed just one more out, one more strike, to become World Series champs. Mets players sat with slumped shoulders and dejected looks in the dugout. Even the scoreboard operator recognized the game, and the series, was over, posting on the jumbotron: Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Series Champions. "They did it!" I said, unable to contain myself. "The Sox won it all!" My father, sitting behind me on the couch with a furrowed brow, knew better. "It's not over yet." And so it was. Having watched the Sox, Celts, and Pats for the past three decades, I truly feel like I've seen it all. I hope to bring that type of perspective as I write about the three teams I love.

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Discussion

One comment for “Sox Will Pay if They Don’t Sign Bay”

  1. Jason Bay is the best mayne.

    Posted by Carl | November 20, 2009, 11:41 pm

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