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After weeks of speculation, Jason Bay and the New York Mets announced a deal to bring Boston’s Canadian import across state lines. After rejecting offers from the Red Sox during spring training, the All-Star break, and after the season for up to four years and $60 million dollars, Bay and his agent Joe Urbon held out for the only deal where a fifth year was even possible; four years and $66 million guaranteed from the Mets with a $17 million vesting option. Reaching 600 plate appearance in 2013 should be easy enough for the durable Bay (2005: 707, 2006: 689, 2007: 614, 2008: 670, 2009:638). Including the vesting fifth year, Bay would receive $80 million over five years; a figure similar to the contract the Red Sox handed to John Lackey and offered to the other free agent left fielder, Scott Boras’ own Matt Holliday.
For all the rumors about the Angels, Mariners, Giants, Cardinals (who eventually signed Holliday) and Yankees’ interest in Bay, it never quite seemed like any team besides the Mets and Red Sox was paying close attention to the left fielder on the free agent market.
The Angels have been very quiet this off-season, watching their ace (John Lackey) and leadoff hitter (Chone Figgins) leave for American league and divisional rivals, only venturing into the free agent market for Fernando Rodney to backup Brian Fuentes. The Angels did lock up Bobby Abreu early in the offseason, but that move only kept the team from losing another key contributor to the 2009 club.
The standard line spoken by everybody from the General Manager to fans is “not to worry, we get two first round draft picks” for that free agent who moved on to another team. For Jason Bay, the return will be a little less than even that. Because the Mets’ first round pick is protected, the Red Sox will receive a pick in the supplemental round and a the Mets’ second round pick.
Overall, the Red Sox came pretty close to even in their total compensation by letting Billy Wagner and Jason Bay leave and forfeiting their own picks in these rounds to the Angels and Blue Jays with the acquisitions of John Lackey and Marco Scutaro. Remember, both Michael Bowden and Nick Hagadone were drafted in the supplemental round in 2005 and 2007 respectively, so those picks are very valuable. If the Red Sox can find another player equal to the centerpiece of the Victor Martinez trade (Hagadone), they would be doing pretty well for themselves come draft day.
Jacoby Ellsbury has replaced Jason Bay in left field, with newcomer Mike Cameron taking over in center. Can David Ortiz summon one more season where he carries the Red Sox lineup with his bat? Will pitching and defense overcome the Yankees or Rays in the AL East and the Rangers in the Wild Card race?
While some point out that the Red Sox offensive acquisitions will bat seven, eight, and nine in the lineup, it was just a few months ago in October where the Red Sox trotted out lineups with five or six hitters and a 1-2-3 inning for the opposing pitcher. Some days, it almost equated to a National League bottom of the order.