Jason Bay could return to his old stomping grounds in 2013
The rumor from ESPN's Buster Olney is that Cody Ross was looking for a three-year contract worth $25 million dollars. Ross and the Red Sox had hoped to get something done before the start of free agency, but neither side could meet in the middle.
Ross had a solid season for the Red Sox in 2012. He had 22 home runs and 81 RBI with a slash line of .267/.326/.481 while playing a passable right field for Boston. Signing Ross to a one-year contract for $3 million was probably general manager Ben Cherington's offseason highlight from last year.
Ross at $3 million is a bargain for any team in baseball, factoring in commitment and salary. Ross at $8 million? I would be very hesitant to do that, especially for three seasons. If Ross can get that type of contract from another team, then wish him good luck and move on. The Sox went 69-93 with Ross last season.
It is a bit of revisionist history to act like Ross is an indispensable player that the Red Sox can't live without. He is a good player who has mashed left-handed pitching throughout his career (.284/.353/.575) and plays a decent outfield. He hustles, plays with energy and seems to be an upbeat personality. If he is hitting in the bottom of your lineup, you have a pretty solid team.
This is where it gets interesting.
Jason Bay is exhibit A for why a player in a good situation shouldn't chase the largest free-agent contract that he can sign. Sometimes, factors such as comfort level, role, home stadium and fan base play an important part in a player's success or failure.
First came the news earlier today from the New York Mets that they had bought out the last two seasons of Bay's contract and made him a free agent. It was a situation where both parties looked at things and realized that it wasn't working.
Should the Red Sox sign Jason Bay?
Next came this WEEI.com report that Bay is open to returning to the Red Sox. I'm sure that Bay regrets ever going to the Mets on a four-year deal that netted him $66 million. He simply hasn't been the same player. Bay was a very good player in his lone full season in Boston, hitting 36 home runs and knocking in 119 RBI. His slash line was .267/.384/.534, and he played a solid left field for the Sox.
Boston should offer Bay the same one-year contract for $3 million that Ross signed last season and give him a chance to come to spring training and win the left fielder job during camp. The 34-year-old Bay has a ton of money, so he should be looking for the right situation to resurrect his career.
Make the contract incentive-based. If Bay looks like he is done in the spring, the Red Sox will have had a chance to see how Bryce Brentz and Jackie Bradley Jr. are coming along.
For the Red Sox, this would be a reunion with very little downside and a chance to avoid overpaying Ross with $25 million.
Thanks, Cody, but no thanks. Good luck.
Statistics are used from the Baseball Reference website.