It has been over a week since the Mets dalliance with Jason Bay began. Reports of a 4-year/$65 million offer to Bay surfaced last Thursday, the final day of the Winter Meetings is Indianapolis. Bay still remains unsigned, and his list of suitors has dwindled in a big way in the past week.
The Mets primary competition for Bay, the Red Sox, whom the outfielder rejected a 4-year deal from are seemingly out of the bidding after signing Mike Cameron a few days back. The Yankees, with Curtis Granderson now in the fold and a Nick Johnson signing imminent, have no room for Bay. The Mariners, who everyone thought would be a player in the Bay sweepstakes, have made a bevy of other payroll increasing moves and seem on the cusp of acquiring Milton Bradley (Update: Bradley has indeed been dealt to Seattle). Scratch them off the list. Bay reportedly is looking to cash in on a 5-year pact and thus has not signed on the dotted line to become the new LF at Cit Field.
My question is, who exactly is going to give the 31-year old Bay (a very good but not great player) the years and money he seeks? There is supposedly a mystery team which has already offered Bay a 5th year, but it being a mystery, nobody knows who the hell it is. Are the Mets essentially bidding against themselves right now? Are they being played by Bay and his agent Joe Urbon? Jon Heyman outlines the Mets conundrum in his latest installment on SI.com.
Look, I have said all along the Mets should have targeted a big pitcher first (Lackey, Halladay) but obviously neither of those are coming to Queens. The Mets got beat to the punch for Lackey by the Red Sox, unable even to make an offer before Boston scooped him up. All signs point to Lackey not really having any interest in coming to the Mets so you can’t really blame Omar and crew for their failure on that front. Halladay had a full no-trade clause and even though the Mets reportedly made an inquiry, it was clear after the dust settled that best pitcher in baseball only wanted to play for the Phillies (maybe the Yankees or Red Sox). So you really can’t get on the Mets for failing on that front either.
The bottom line is that the pool of available high-quality starting pitchers was extremely limited. Next year might be a different story, with Cliff Lee and Josh Beckett among others likely out there on the open market. I know the Mets are getting crushed by the media and their starving fan base, but I think the Mets are doing the right thing. I believe Bay will end up in Flushing, hopefully with the Mets not overpaying. I gather Molina, who is seeking a 3-year deal, will eventually lower his demands and end up signing on with the Mets.
As far as first base goes, I have a strong feeling that Carlos Delgado (if he proves himself to be healthy in the Dominican League this winter) will be back in the mix. Some are not so keen on Delgado coming back for one more year, but I say why the hell not? We counted this guy out a few years back and all he did was have a monstrous second half of the year and almost lead the Mets to the playoffs. The guy is a Hall-of-Famer and a power bat the Mets need badly and I think, on an incentive-laden 1-year deal, the rewards greatly outweigh the risks.
I know the team’s success depends heavily on who they get to bolster their sagging starting rotation and if the injured stars can return to form but before you go jumping off a cliff Mets fans, check out this potential lineup:
- Reyes, SS
- Castillo, 2B
- Beltran, CF
- Wright, 3B
- Delgado, 1B
- Bay, LF
- Francoeur, RF
- Molina, C
Even the harshest critics amongst us would have to admit that this is not too shabby.