Jason Bay and the New York Mets parted ways today, agreeing to a buyout that pays out the guaranteed remainder of his contract over the next several years. With Bay now an unrestricted free agent with no intention of retiring, the speculation on where he may look to reestablish his career has already begun.
Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi has kicked it off with the suggestion that Seattle might be a good fit given Bay's ties to the Northwest—he is from B.C. and his wife is from Seattle, where they reside during the offseason. Coupled with the Mariners' perennial need for offense, the reasoning is solid.
Of course, it raises the question of whether the oft-injured left fielder can still be considered an offensive upgrade; after all, the Mets are paying him to play elsewhere.
New York will end up compensating Bay to the tune of $66M for three years in which he put up a combined 26 HR and 124 RBI in 288 games—not exactly what was expected of the 34-year-old when he signed with the Amazin's, following an All-Star and Silver Slugger season for the Red Sox in 2009.
That's all in the past now and, given the likelihood that he could be had on a non-guaranteed contract, there will be teams that will be willing extend a spring training offer to Bay in the hopes of a return to those Bo-Sox/Pirates days when he was routinely a .900 OPS hitter.
Ignoring the unassailable logic in Morosi's suggestion that Seattle is likely the best bet—especially, as he points out, with the outfield fences being moved in—would Bay to Toronto make sense? The main impetus for the move would be, of course, to bring a Canadian player to the Canadian team; Canadian fans like to watch Canadian players, naturally, and the more the merrier.
Furthermore, the Jays have an opening at LF and would like to fill it on the cheap, with the majority of available FA dollars likely going into the rotation. Bay would also have the opportunity to DH, which might alleviate some of the injury risk.
The above points are reasons to think that Jason Bay would be of interest to Toronto, however Alex Anthopoulos has not let sentimentalism guide his past dealings—trading fan favourites Jason Frasor and John McDonald in 2011—and Bay has been unproductive even when healthy over the last three years.
All in all, you can't help but agree with Morosi that Seattle, given Bay's link to the city and the team's need, is the obvious place for him to wind up if there is mutual interest. It would be nice to see the Canuck win the Comeback Player of the Year award in a Jays' uniform, but that's probably wishful thinking (on a number of fronts).
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