The Baywatch game doesn't hold the same excitement it did a week ago, or even three days ago. The number of suitors for Bay seems to be dwindling by the day, and as the demand goes down, so does the price.
The Red Sox have gone after John Lackey and Mike Cameron instead. The Angels have gone for Hideki Matsui. The Mariners now have Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee. The Cardinals are still working on Matt Holliday, while the Yankees invest their time and money in Johnny Damon.
What does that leave for Bay? A one-way ticket to Queens, most likely.
With the Red Sox pouring $85 million into Lackey, and Cameron arriving in town as the perfect lower-budget replacement for Bay in the Boston outfield, it's time for the Sox to step aside and allow themselves to be outbid for their star left fielder. Their finances have been stretched far enough. And when push comes to shove, there will be no outbidding the New York Mets.
If you've followed the public discourse between Bay's agent, Joe Urbon, and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, you can see a clear philosophical divide between the two. And it doesn't look like that bridge will be gapped.
The Red Sox are a model of caution, foresight and fiscal responsibility. They want the sure thing — they don't want to sink their millions into a risky proposition. And while Bay not be much of a risk now, at 31, there's no telling how much his skills will deteriorate between now and the end of a hypothetical long-term deal. That's why the Sox would rather play it safe, offering Bay three or four years and making him prove he will age gracefully.
But Urbon isn't having it. He and Bay rejected yet another offer from the Red Sox last week, with Urbon telling Fox Sports that they're ready to "move on" from Boston.
"We don't agree with their evaluation of the player," Urbon told the site. "Frankly, we have other offers on the table that are of greater interest to Jason."
The Red Sox' evaluation of Bay here and now is that he's a stud. With 45 homers and 156 RBIs between the trade deadline in 2008 and the end of '09, Bay established himself as a legitimate superstar in the heart of Boston's order. There's no doubt about that.
But where the two sides differ is that down the road, the Red Sox can't make a commitment to an aging, perhaps unreliable Bay. That's where the Mets stand alone.
The four-year, $65 million offer that New York GM Omar Minaya extended to Bay last week was already the biggest offer on the table. But they didn't stop there — no, they insisted upon blowing Bay away with an even bigger proposition. How does five years and $75 million sound?
Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman has reported that Minaya and Urbon met on Tuesday and spoke at length. The two are looking closer than ever to working out a deal — and there's little chance the Red Sox can compete at this point.
For the Mets, Bay is a big slugger that will slot in perfectly next to Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran in the heart of the order, and he's a perfect replacement for that fossil Gary Sheffield. For Bay, the Mets' offer is a bigger contract than he's ever seen, and it's the chance to play on the game's biggest stage in New York City.
Everyone wins. And with the Red Sox moving on, they can win, too. The future is bright in Queens, but it might be even brighter here in Boston.
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