Red Sox Need To Pay Jason Bay

Alec SzczerbinskiCorrespondent IMay 26, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 05:  Jason Bay #44 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the New York Yankees on May 5, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Red Sox defeated the Yankees 7-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The season is still in its early stages, but the numbers do not lie. Jason Bay has started strong this season, boasting a line of .289/.418/.616 in 45 games. He has 13 home runs to go with his 47 RBI. Those numbers all point towards a big pay day this offseason.

Along with his strong hitting this season, Bay has also swiped five bases, and is a strong defensive outfielder.

To be a bit cliche, Bay is a ballplayer. He runs out his groundballs, supports his teammates, and is respectful in the locker room. He simply goes out there and does the job he's required to do.

Which team will be lucky enough to lock up this All-Star from Trail, Canada? It should be the Boston Red Sox, and it should happen before the season even ends.

Jason Bay was brought over to Boston from Pittsburgh in the three-team deal that involved Manny Ramirez this past trading deadline. No one really thought it was a particularly great deal for Boston, as they gave up one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball.

Bay responded with a respectable .293 average, 9 home runs, and 37 RBI for Boston in 49 games. He also performed well in the playoffs with a .341 batting average, 3 home runs, and 9 RBI.

Those numbers, along with the numbers from this season, show that Bay can handle the pressure of playing in Boston, a city that demands winning.

In an offseason that has very few big name outfielders available, Jason Bay will probably be demanding a large contract. It's well deserved. Boston's management needs to step up and get this contract signed before Bay gets a chance to test the open-market.

There may be other alternatives for Boston that could be found through trades, but that would require the team to trade at least Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Daniel Bard, or any more of their MLB-ready prospects. It's not worth trading away the future of the organization for one player.

What this comes down to is really just looking at what kind of player the Red Sox are going to be signing. They are getting a solid hitter with good power, a good defender, a consistent ballplayer, and a fantastic teammate.

Bay, who is still in his prime, is reportedly seeking a three to four year deal. The Red Sox seem hesitant to sign him that long, but they would be making a mistake by not doing so. You typically see hitters fall out of their primes in their mid-30s, and Bay would no longer be under a contract with the team at that point.

The "contract year", argument also stands some validity at this point. It happens in every sport. Players in the final year of their contract play freakishly good and laugh all the way to the bank during the offseason, only to follow it up with a less-than-stellar performance next season.

Jason Bay is not the kind of player that would have a huge drop in production. He's had one uncharacteristic year in his career, and that was 2007 where he only hit .247 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI. While that drop is possible, remember that he's hitting in Fenway Park 81 games out of the season. He's been able to mold his swing to work with the Green Monster.

The Red Sox organization is one that is not strapped for cash. They have given J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo huge (and undeserved) contracts, and chased down Mark Teixiera this past offseason. They certainly have the money to pay Jason Bay, so it should be a no-brainer that the organization gives him what he deserves and gets this deal done.