Previewing the Jason Bay ‘sweepstakes’


In a few weeks, current Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay will hit free agency for the first time in his career. With 36 home runs and 117 RBI, Bay is putting together some lofty stats at an opportune time, but still, his season comes equipped with numerous warning signs. Although the Yanks have been one of many teams mentioned as interested, they should become involved with Bay only to drive up the price for the Red Sox.

Through the middle of 2008, Bay excelled in relative obscurity. A darling for fantasy team owners, he was a stand-out player on years’ worth of terrible Pirates teams. He left Pittsburgh with a .281/.375/.515 line in six seasons and 131 home runs to complement the 131 OPS+. Bay arrived in Boston as a key piece in the three-way trade that sent Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles and clearly had some big shoes to fill.

While not nearly as good as Manny — who is? — Bay has found success in Boston. Through 198 games, he has a 132 OPS+ and has hit 45 home runs. His triple slash line this season— .275/.382/.537 — is impressive, and more than a few teams will come a-knockin’ when he hits free agency this winter.

Earlier this week, MLB Trade Rumors summarized the state of the Bay sweepstakes. Alex Speier in Boston believes that the bidding could reach $14-$15 million for Bay and that the left fielder will receive at least four years. Speier feels that Boston return is a “legitimate possibility” but notes that at least seven teams — including the Yankees — could have the interest and money to sign Bay.

To which I say, “Pass.” Right now, Jason Bay is a productive middle-of-the-order hitter, but warning signs abound. The most obvious problem is his age. He is 31, and his free agent contract will cover his decline years. With that in mind, we turn to his defense. Right now, it is atrocious. He hasn’t had a positive UZR since 2006, and even in Fenway’s limited left field, he’s putting up a -12.3 mark this year. While he may be worth 34.3 offensive runs above average, he is 12.3 defensive runs below average. That number will just get worse as he gets older.

Also of concern are his strike outs. He has a career-high 159 strike outs in 60 fewer plate appearances than when he sruck out 156 times in 2006. As he ages, his bat speed will slow, and that total should continue to climb.

Now, don’t get me wrong; Jason Bay is a very good hitter. His power bat would profile nicely for Yankee Stadium. Considering, however, the costs, years, his age and defense, I can’t see the Yanks expressing much legitimate interest. If the Yanks can force Boston to overpay for Bay without landing Bay themselves, well, that is a decent off-season plan.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Dela G says:

    Too bad JP Riccardi just got fired, i bet he would sign bay to a 7 year 147 million dollar contract for the hell of it

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:

      Remember when the Giants were pretty much willing to offer Lincecum for Rios but Riccardi insisted they also take Glaus too, and things fell apart? Good times. We should be thankful that we had such an incompetent GM in our division for so long. The O’s are starting to stockpile good talent, the Rays aren’t slouches and we all know about the Sox. This division would be ABSOLUTE MURDER if the Jays ever figure it out and some of Baltimore’s talent buds. We should throw parades for Vernon Wells every season.

  2. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    I think the surprise team in the Bay sweepstakes will be, Seattle. No reason. Just seems like it’s Canada-ish to me.

  3. Mike Axisa says:

    But what about his game calling?!?

  4. Free Mike Vick says:

    Forget Jason Bay.

    Maybe we should give Jose Molina $14-$15 million…i mean he is going to be the starting catcher in one of the biggest games of the entire freaking year.

    but seriously…i really don’t think Jason Bay ends up back in boston.

  5. Phil in LA says:

    Yanks should just offer arb to the guys they have (minus Nady) and go from there.

  6. Kiersten says:

    If we would sign Bay with his above average bat and far below average glove, then we might as well just resign Damon, who would be cheaper and for fewer years.

    • Tom Zig says:


    • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

      Kiersten, FTW!!!

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:

      Wrong. We should get both Holliday and Bay. Sure, they’ll both be overpriced by a combined $80-100 million, but it’s the Yankees—they can afford it. Not only can they afford it, they want to spend it in an effort to jump-start the local economy. Real philanthropists. Think about the benefits. Maybe one falters. Boom—throw the other guy in! Even Boston will be envious of our outfield depth. Plus, it may give us better relations with Canada, so we’ll be more attractive to Grady Sizemore when he becomes a free agent, and Larry Walker, when he decides to coach. Or Toronto, when (not if) we decide to purchase both them and Pittsburgh and turn them into our AA and AAA affiliates.

      I’m telling you, man, this plan is airtight. I defy you to find holes in my logic!

      • JMK aka The Overshare says:

        Also, losing the draft picks to sign these guys doesn’t matter. The Yanks would have just drafted guys with prosthetic arms, anyway (and they’ll still need surgery!).

      • 007 says:

        I am not really interested in Bay, but the idea of having Holliday hitting behind A-rod is something i would put a lot of thought into. That would also protect the Yanks if a-rod does need the second surgery and isnt 100% after wards for some reason. Or there is some other injury next season. That being said we wont need Matsui and Damon back, and they could afford to play their younger players more. Just something i would give a lot of thought into just like they did with Tex. Plus look what Holliday did hitting behind Pujols in the clean up spot .358 with 13 homers, 50 RBIs, a 1.050 OPS in 204 at bats.

        • JobaWockeeZ says:

          I’m not so sure he can replicate those numbers in the AL. He was only mediocre in his only AL stint.

          Plus with the number’s he’s putting up and him being a Boras agent, he’s going to get a massive contract.

          The Yankees might be paying a 6 or 7 year deal for the same offensive production that you will get form either Matsui or Damon.

          I’d rather let the Yankees go the cheaper route singing both Damon and Matsui on cheaper deals.

          • 007 says:

            i feel he would put up great numbers at Yankee Stadium, plus since he is protecting Pujols, who most people feel is the best hitter in the league, he can handle the AL. there maybe an adjustment period, but that is to be expected. as for what he did in the AL, remember he was in Oakland, and he did start to heat up before he was traded.

            As for the massive contract, i feel he is worth it. It isnt something i would normally do but Holliday puts up big numbers! Also lets see how he is in the postseason, i know he put up good numbers last time. And yes that is the one thing that scares me about the Yanks.. will they hit in the postseason? at least just enough to win?

            but yes i understand about going the cheaper route, however can you expect Damon and Matsui not to decline?
            they are getting older and both have injury issues in their past years. I would just weigh all my opinions, and seriously think about adding him. Because just like most people thought the Yanks didnt need Tex, they will say the same with Holliday. And if they ever got him i think people would say, wow i didnt know he was this good

            • JobaWockeeZ says:

              If Matsui and Damon can be given enough rest then I believe they can put up similar numbers this year.

              But I’d love to have Matt Holliday on the Yankees. But that’s going to be expensive and unnecessary. I believed that the Yankees needed another power bat last year with Abreu and Giambi gone. They acquired Swisher but would he be enough? Then they got Teix and he’s been amazing this year.

              We have that power bat for years to come. So do the Yanks really need Holliday? I don’t think they really do. And they’ll essentially be paying a lot of money for his decline years rather than paying Damon and Matsui a little for them declining.

              • 007 says:

                well i do agree with your points. but i think he still would be more protective than Damon and Matsui. Remember Matsui can only DH , so what are you going to have him come back for one year?

                also with a-rod getting older and possible health related issues the yanks may really need someone else. Remember early in the year Tex did struggle without a-rod.. which a lot of it may have been him starting off slow. the other thing is without being back Matsui who is going to hit behind a-rod? there really isnt an ideal person

                it is not really maybe the fact they need him, but come next july and they find out a-rod does indeed need the 2nd surgery.. i think they would need Holliday then

                anyway just something i would keep in mind

            • D. Price says:

              The last time i saw Holliday play he got nailed in the nuts by a fly ball and the Cardinals lost

          • E-ROC says:

            I think his AL stint is incomplete because, prior to the trade, Holliday was heating up. Hitting .338 .417 .517 before the trade happens. I don’t think Holliday’s stint in the AL can be labeled mediocre when he didn’t play an entire season in that league.

            • 007 says:

              yes i agree with that.. if he had more time and played with a better team, or in the Yankee lineup he would have great numbers!

              besides who did he have hitting around him in Oakland?

      • Okula67Fan says:

        We could also purchase the Canadian NHL teams. Their best enforcers that could sit on our bench just waiting for some opposing pitcher to throw at one of our guys! This is flawless!

  7. Joseph M says:

    The team I think will make a big move for him will be the Mets. The Mets are going to have to bite the bullet here and spend big time after this season. Bay will be overpriced and may well turn out to be a player that goes into decline in the first half of his soon to be signed deal .

  8. GG says:

    Keep Damon AND Matsui…..All problems solved. Matsui will be willing to take a ginourmous cut I believe, he wants to play baseball, and not for a team like KC

    • 007 says:

      well that does work if they are healthy next year and a-rod is also healthy. only thing is what happens if a-rod isnt? or someone goes down? do you want to waste next year?

      • Tom Zig says:

        arod may not even need the 2nd surgery.

      • Zack says:

        I dont understand what you’re trying to say? We need to sign Bay for insurance?

        • 007 says:

          oh no not Bay, Matt Holliday for insurance. Bay is a good player but he isnt Holliday and i really not interested in Bay. as it is we already have enough poor outfield defenders and Bay is also terrible in the outfield

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

        007 is James Bond who is a British Secret Agent. British term for vacation is holliday. So therefor….

        007 is Tom Holliday. Matt Holliday’s father, who is reported to be a Yankee fan.

        You have to wake up pretty early to fool me, Mr. Holliday.

        • Tom Zig says:

          him and his tomfoolery

        • 007 says:

          haha a nice laugh

          but if Boston ever got Holliday everyone will know how good he is.. Remember what would have happened if they got Tex?

          • Tom Zig says:

            Boston Plan A: Re-sign Bay
            Boston Plan B: Sign Holliday

            The two are exclusive.

          • whozat says:

            The argument is not “Matt Holliday is great” vs “Matt Holliday is no good at all”.

            The argument is “Matt Holliday will be worth a very expensive contract covering age 31 – 34/36″ vs “Comparable production can be acquired in 2010 by doing something else, which leaves the Yanks free to go after Carl Crawford or someone else more athletic than Holliday in the 2010 offseason”

            • 007 says:

              yea i understand that, but Crawford isnt that same type of hitter. plus i think the Yankees can put Holliday in RF were he wont have as much ground to cover. the OF could really be tightened up and maybe just maybe both Gardner and Melky could both play pretty much everyday .. i feel that would be a great defensive OF and this would allow the younger guys to play as well, since we do have some very good young talent

              • I’m not necessarily opposed to bringing Holliday in, although I think he’s going to command more money than makes sense for the Yankees to offer him, but I’m curious; if you play Holliday, Gardner and Melky everyday, where does Swisher go?

                And I agree that Crawford and Holliday are differnt players, but I think that’s the point. The Yankees have power hitters like Holliday, Crawford would add something to the lineup they don’t really have now.

        • JMK aka The Overshare says:

          i feel like we’re kindred spirits (no homo!).

  9. Phil in LA says:

    Nady’s gonna be out for a long time. There’s basically no way anyone would sign him. Damon and Matsui for one more year wouldn’t be bad at all.

  10. Jose says:

    “While not nearly as good as Manny”

    Why do people keep saying that? Jason Bay has been a more productive player this year then Manny Ramirez. Clearly Manny is better career wise, and this year he had a suspension, but Bay has added more value on the year to the Red Sox than Manny has to the Dodgers. It was a good trade for Boston.

    • Tom Zig says:

      Bay has been more productive because Manny missed 50 games.

      • Jose says:

        I know, that is why I said “this year he had a suspension”. Manny still added less value. Isn’t that the most important thing for a player during the course of a season, to add value?

        • Steve H. says:

          So he added more value this year. Who’s the better player? It’s Manny. Derek Jeter had a down year last year. There were several players who had better seasons who aren’t as good of players as Jeter is.

          • Jose says:

            I agree with this statement 100%. I guess nobody bothers to read my post. “Clearly Manny is better career wise.” I was just commenting it is tough to say Bay hasn’t been nearly as good as Manny, when in fact this year he has.

            • Steve H. says:

              To go back to your original comment, you asked why people keep saying Manny is better than Bay, and the reason is because he is better than Bay, he just hasn’t been this year.

              • Jose says:

                Alright I’m glad we can come to somewhat of an agreement. I just wanted to make sure when people were saying that Bay can’t be compared to Manny, that they weren’t talking about this year. Bay has been better this year, but like you said with the Jeter example that doesn’t make him a better player when Manny is having a year that is substandard for him.

            • D. Price says:

              Manny is better career wise because of 1 thing. PED’s!!! Period. Since his return from suspension Manny hasn’t done a lot.

    • Steve H. says:

      Manny is much, much better.

    • Tom Zig says:


      Jason Bay: 133 OPS+
      Manny: 150 OPS+

      • TheZack says:

        I believe that qualifies for ownage…

        • Jose says:

          No it doesn’t.
          Bay wOBA: .399
          Manny wOBA: .398

          That is far more telling of production as an offensive player then OPS+.

          • TheZack says:

            Wait wait wait, so because Bay, in far more ABs, has a .001 percentage point advantage in the rate stat WOBA, hes been more valuable to the Sox? Manny has better #s, across the board, in everything that ignores the playing time. Better average, better OBP, better slugging, better K/BB, better OPS, etc.

            Your contention was that Bay has been more productive and more valuable than Manny, and the #s simply don’t back that up. At all.

            • Jose says:

              No I am saying that just because Manny has a better OPS+ that doesn’t mean anything about how many runs he has added rate wise.

              “Your contention was that Bay has been more productive and more valuable than Manny, and the #s simply don’t back that up. At all.”

              Not true at all. In terms of value Manny has a 2.7 WAR, Bay has a 3.6 WAR. THIS YEAR Bay has been far more productive then Manny.

              “Manny has better #s, across the board, in everything that ignores the playing time. Better average, better OBP, better slugging, better K/BB, better OPS”

              Not true at all. I showed Bay has the better wOBA which excludes playing time. I would rather have a guy with a higher wOBA then another player but lower OBP, AVG, SLG, and OPS 10 times out of 10. Those stats do not even come close to the level of accuracy for offensive production as wOBA does.

  11. JSquared says:

    Bay is a mess. I haven’t seen him hit a homerun to centerfield… He’s a pull hitter, is there any really great power, or is he tremendously assisted by Boston’s stadium?

    The reason he hits 30+ homeruns is the reason why he bats under .275, i’ll pass, i hope the Red Sox don’t.

    I think as the Yankees, they need a fast guy in LF, which is why i don’t mind having Damon out there with a bad arm.

    Damon will make 5-8 Million, so sitting him for a better fielder like Melky sometimes won’t hurt as much as sitting Bay who will make 15+ million.

    • TheZack says:

      Well, he’s hit more HRs on the road than at home. He’s aided by Fenway in terms of his overall OPS, but its not a HUGE split, the way it is for, say Ortiz, who away from Fenway is the suck (even more so).

      • JSquared says:

        He also has a higher batting average at Home, nice big wall should give you a couple hits you really shouldn’t have… I can only hope Boston overpays for him.

    • Whitey14 says:

      First, Damon will make A LOT more than 5-8 million and Second, Jason Bay has hit something like 8 homeruns to left in Fenway. If anybody can find me evidence that many balls hit over the Green Monster wouldn’t have the trajectory to travel an additional 20 feet, and thus over the average left field fence, I’d be anxious to view it. Fenway will add some doubles and singles in left, but there aren’t many cheap home runs unless they barely made over the wall on their way straight down.

      I’d like Bay back, but would prefer a higher average dollar value for shorter years with club options that trigger with certain performance bonuses.

  12. Joba Rules says:

    I mean, for just a little bit more they can get Matt Holliday, the superior player. Bay seems like a dumb move, unless they plan on DHing him.

    • 007 says:

      yea just a bit more and Holliday is a much better hitter!! Bay i wont even bother with, unless its just to up the price on the soxs

  13. pete says:

    I don’t know that it’s such a bad idea to go after bay/holliday. Obviously if the price is outrageous we have to back out, but I think our safest route towards staying atop the east next year is offense. I know the defense is terrible, but we have gardy, melky, and ajax (hopefully at some point next year) to cover for that when it is really important.

    I know that no matter what either of bay/holliday is going to be overpaid, and it sucks being the overpayer, but the AL east is going to be scary next year, and it’s going to be tough to make our pitching stand up against the sox and rays. Doable, but far from a guarantee. If we add one more power bat, however, we’ll have by far the best offense in the league again, and that should be able to carry us.

    The thing is, a bunch of guys on our team are hitting at their absolute peaks (tex, cano, hideki, swisha, jetes). If some of our guys have down years/injuries next year, we’d be seriously regretting not having another power bat to rely on. I know it seems like overkill/unnecessary right now, but nobody ever thinks that they have needs to fill after a dominant year like this. I don’t think anybody thought we truly needed everybody we got this offseason, but is anybody regretting it now?

    As yankee fans we tend to place a lot of value on cost-efficiency simply because we get so much shit from fans of other teams when we spend money, but would you rather get shit for winning with a crazy high payroll or for not winning with a lower-but-still-high payroll?

    I know that contractually damon/matsui is a better bet than bay, but if at this point next year both of those guys are hitting .265/.340/.420, I’m not sure i’d be so happy. But that’s just my opinion

    • 007 says:

      nice write up .. i really agree with everything you say. only that i would get Holliday over Bay since Holliday is a much better player and a better defender.

      but yea that is what i been saying, what is there is an injury then the whole season is for nothing. also getting Holliday would help the Yanks stay a top of the soxs and the rays

      i say let both damon and matsui go, get holliday put him in RF and hit him behind a-rod and then offensively we should be set
      then have the younger guys play in CF and LF and the OF defense would be much improved

      • Tom Zig says:

        Why would you put Holliday in RF if that’s where swisher is? Especially if you’re giving Damon the boot

        • 007 says:

          well that is something that they could do, since its best not to just hand the job to swisher totally.. i would prefer to see some of the younger OFs play and see what happens but if swisher is out hitting them of course he would play

          • whozat says:

            How has swisher not already earned the RF job? Why would you bench him for Melky or Gardner when he’s far and away a better player than both of them?

          • pete says:

            I disagree. Swisher is roughly equal in value to jason bay. He’s not sitting on the bench.

      • pete says:

        ya actually i agree i just think their production will be similar and bay might come a little cheaper. but my main point was that I think the yankees offense and pitching will both likely regress a tad next year if left alone, and there’s just too high a chance that the sox and rays get better. You know the red sox are going to nab somebody big this offseason, whether it’s bay or holliday or someone else, and the rays pitching could be scary deep and their offense is going to be decent, at the very least.

        I think team OPS is arguably the biggest influence on regular season success, and hr power depth is huge in the postseason. If the yankees add another .850 OPS bat this offseason, they should be enough of a juggernaut to pretty much guarantee a playoff berth.

        I think the Yankees could certainly be a 98+ win team without doing anything, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Adding a bat like holliday or bay gives them the cushion they may need next year with joba, pettitte/phil/gaudin/wang? taking up 3/5 of the rotation. That’s not to say that our pitching will kill us next year – I think we’re pretty much in the same place as any other competitive team, SP-wise. But I don’t want to be in the thick of it. I want to win it. I’d rather be the big bad yankees than the might-not-make-the-playoffs yankees. In the AL east, there’s no excuse for a quiet offseason.

  14. JM says:

    I don’t want our whole roster to be in 5 year+ contracts. Better off with the resigning Damon and giving Matsui a pay cut option.

    • JM says:

      If Holliday wasn’t a Boras client, then I’d be for signing Holliday, but Holliday would have to have a gargantuan contract. Better off waiting till 2010 and try to get Mauer (not that I realistically think it would happen) or Crawford.

    • 007 says:

      i rather give 5 plus year contracts if it make the team better and gives the yanks the best chance to win the world series each year. though i would only give out one more big contract since i wont want many other ones for awhile

      • whozat says:

        You’re being shortsighted. The whole point is that giving out a 5+ year deal to Holliday will be fine for the first two-three years, but after that…he’ll be declining on both sides of the ball, and we’ll be stuck paying him 20 mil a year for several more years.

        • 007 says:

          no i am not.. though he will decline as everyone does.. this will let the younger players play so its for the future as well

  15. dkidd says:

    with the economy still at historic lows, i don’t think the yanks should rule out holliday. bobby abreu for 5M is not likely to happen again, but maybe st louis low-balls boras and we sweep in late for 3/30M?

    • whozat says:

      And, why would the Red Sox not immediately top that? Or the Mets? Or the White Sox?

      • Tom Zig says:

        True story.

        • pete says:

          Like I said, if the price is too high, we back out. But we have to (and almost certainly will) be very much involved. If all that happens is Boston ends up having to overpay for bay, then so be it, that’s another win. I’m just saying that we should, and will, absolutely be a major player this offseason. The economy may sucks, but the yankees are still the yankees.

    • Steve H. says:

      Boras won’t pick up the phone if St. Louis offers him less than 3/30m.

  16. Joba Rules says:

    If Boston doesn’t re-sign Bay and Holliday stays in St. Louis, they’ll likely go hard after Adrian Gonzalez.

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