Mets nearing agreement with Jason Bay
Oddly quiet all off-season, the New York Mets finally made their long-awaited answer to the significant moves of their crosstown and divisional rivals -- that would be the Yankees and Phillies, respectively -- agreeing to terms with free agent left fielder Jason Bay on a four-year deal believed to be worth around $65 million.
The deal, first reported by WFAN's Mike Francesa, remains unofficial pending a physical examination. Bay had been seeking a guaranteed fifth year from his suitors -- which also included the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants -- but had to settle for four guaranteed years plus a fifth-year club option that would vest if Bay hits certain, as-yet-unspecified durability thresholds. Earlier this month, the Red Sox, for whom Bay hit .267 with 36 homers and 119 RBI in 2009, turned away from Bay over his demands for a fifth guaranteed year and replaced him with free agent Mike Cameron. The Mets' offer, meantime, appears to have sat unchanged for more than two weeks before Bay finally accepted.
Bay, 31, will bring some much-needed power to a Mets lineup that finished last in the majors in home runs (95) in 2009 -- although, like other free agents, he may have initially balked at the thought of hitting in the Mets' cavernous new Citi Field. He has hit 30 or more homers and driven in 100 or more runs in four of the last five seasons.
For much of the winter, the Mets had stood by idly while their rivals reloaded, with the Phillies, in particular -- coming off back-to-back World Series appearances -- seemingly putting even more distance between themselves and the rest of the division. Until Tuesday, the Mets' most significant move of the off-season was probably the signing of rehabbing right-hander Kelvim Escobar to a one-year deal.
But Mets GM Omar Minaya, known for his aggressive moves (Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, et al.), pounced on Bay, who, along with Matt Holliday, stood out in an otherwise lackluster class of free agent hitters. The Mets' next signing could be catcher Bengie Molina, whom they have been pursuing all winter.
Minaya's signing of Bay, meantime, has a certain bit of symmetry to it. In March 2002, Minaya, then GM of the Montreal Expos, traded Bay, at the time a top prospect, to the Mets for the immortal Lou Collier.
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