Jason Bay wanted a five-year deal. The Mets considered it. After all, Bay was their number one target two offseasons ago, at least after they realized Matt Holliday would cost more. On December 29, 2009, Omar Minaya landed the left fielder for four years, at the price of $66 million, with a fifth-year option. And, oh yeah — a full no-trade clause.
In a way it was a reversal of a past wrongdoing for Minaya, who had traded Bay from the Expos to the Mets in 2002, when he was in Single A. Four months later, the Mets shipped Bay — and Bobby M. Jones — off to San Diego, and got what would prove to be just about nothing in return.
Now Bay was back in New York, fresh off an All-Star season with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs, a year in which he finished seventh in the AL MVP voting. He was 31, and while the Red Sox had concerns about the health of his shoulders, there was no real reason to believe he wouldn’t continue to produce, at least for a few more years. Sure, the Green Monster was a bit closer to home plate than any Citi Field fence, but throughout his career Bay had shown the ability to hit for power.
Of course, we all know what happened: Bay hit a wall — hard. Much harder, at least, than he has hit a baseball. In two years with the Mets, Bay has a total of 18 homers and 101 RBIs. He’s played better-than-expected defense, and has managed a .337 on-base percentage, but his .386 slugging percentage is, well, frightening.
In retrospect, the third-biggest contract in Mets history — behind Johan Santana‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s — might turn out to be the worst. But no one knew that on December 29, 2009. Today we turn the clock back two years, to see what people had to say about the deal at the time.
“I don’t think the Mets will regret signing him at any point during the next four years. I just think the Mets could have done more with their money, in terms of what this team specifically needs.” -Matthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com
“When it’s all said and done the Mets needed Jason Bay. Their lineup needed a player that could get on base, hit with power, and drive in runs.“ -Mike Silva, NY Baseball Digest
“Jason Bay is not a better value than Matt Holliday. Jason Bay may be worth the $16mil a year, but Matt Holliday is going to be worth more than the $20mil a year it will take to sign him.” -Patrick Flood, in response to Dec. 11 reports that the Mets had offered Bay 4 years/$65 M
“All said and done, the Mets may end up regretting this contract. It’s a year too long, it’s too rich, and Bay’s defense is less than stellar. However, there is a very good chance that ten years from now, we’ll look back and ask: Will the Mets ever have another left fielder as good as Jason Bay?” -Dan Lewis, Amazin’ Avenue
“The $66 million devoted to Bay – with an easily obtainable fifth-year option that would reportedly take the total value to around $80 million – would have made more sense in John Lackey‘s pockets.” -Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports
“Bay’s health and production could deteriorate with age, making him an albatross.” -Brian Costa, Star-Ledger (now at the Wall Street Journal)
“As a 31-year-old with what we tend to call ‘old people skills’ – high power, poor defensive range and average-at-best speed – Bay can be expected to decline at a faster rate than the average player.” -Jack Moore, FanGraphs
“I have a feeling that in a few years the Mets will have regrets and will want to be flushing Bay.” -Joel Sherman, New York Post
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