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2009 All Star Jason Bay will have to wait until the end of the season for a new contract.
The Red Sox and Bay have put off discussions for a contract renewal for a second time. The Sox tried to sign Bay to an extension during Spring Training, however talks were suspended. They picked up again during the All-Star break, only to be shelved for the time being.
As of Wednesday, Bay is hitting .254 with 20 home runs and 72 RBI. He is ninth in home runs in the AL and second in RBI, behind Minnesota’s Justin Morneau. However, he is currently 70th in batting average, and sixth in strikeouts with 93.
Bay came to the Sox for the trade that saw Manny Ramirez out of Boston. He joined the Boston roster and contributed with a .293 average and was part of a solid foundation that helped the Sox make it to Game 7 of the ALCS.
Bay is in the final year of a four-year, $18.25 million contract. It is unknown the value the Sox are offering, but one would have to think that Bay will have J.D. Drew’s five-year, $70 million contract on his mind. With Drew earning that money despite a .236 average with 12 home runs and 38 RBI, Bay may have some leverage in discussions.
Despite Drew’s deal, Bay’s value might not be as high due to the slumping economy. With the production Bay has shown driving in runs, he should expect something around the $10-12 million a year range for a deal, for about four to five years.
Bay said he is willing to remain in Boston if the offer is right, but there have been scenarios where players say one thing and do another. So where would that leave Boston should Bay leave?
There are several free agents on the market after next season. Cliff Floyd has had a strong impact in the last few years for the Mets and Rays, but has been lackluster in more of a mentor role for the Padres this year. Carl Crawford could be a valuable free agent, but expect the Rays to pick up his ten million option. Old Flame Johnny Damon is also back on the market, but with youngsters like Wily Mo Pena available, it is hard to see the Red Sox bringing back the 36 year old.
The one guy who would make the most sense would be Matt Holliday. He currently is batting .280 with 11 home runs and 53 RBI. Many Sox fans will remember his push during the 2007 playoffs while with the Rockies, where he was named NLCS MVP and did all he could against the Sox in the World Series. He is expected to be a big draw during the off-season and many teams, including Boston, will probably be in on the discussions.
Should everything fall through, the Red Sox could always aim for Manny Ramirez again, if he doesn’t accept his $20 million player option.