If the figures mentioned—$60 million over four years—are indeed what was offered by the front office, Bay and/or his agent may prove to be foolish. Large money is becoming much more difficult to demand with the economy suffering as it is.
Even though $15 million per year would not place him at the head of the class, neither does the .267 average he posted this past season. It is also a pretty doggone good salary for anyone, even a baseball star.
I am not attempting to diminish the ability or the statistics of Bay; I merely state what I believe are solid facts.
I have always liked Bay, even when he was the best hitter against the Cincinnati Reds while a Pittsburgh Pirate. He absolutely wore the Reds thin, seemingly hitting multiple homers each series, especially at Great American Ball Park.
It is a very good resume he boasts, may I add. He won the Rookie of the Year Award while with the Pirates in 2004, when he batted .282 with 26 home runs and 82 RBI. In four complete seasons with the Bucs, he batted .281 and averaged 32 homers and 104 RBI (based on a 162-game season).
He has been a crowd-pleaser and one of the best players on the Red Sox. His salary for 2009 was reported as $7.8 million, according to ESPN.com. It would be hard to support a claim that he be paid twice what he made when he batted .267 with 36 homers and 119 RBI, being among the league leaders in the latter two categories.
Tampa Bay left fielder Pat Burrell found the financial waters waving roughly after his final season with the (then-) world champion Philadelphia Phillies. He eventually signed with the Rays for $7 million, half of what he commanded the year before.
He may be handsomely rewarded for his voyage to the pinnacle of the salary world, but it would surprise me if anyone would be willing to beat that offer. Having said that, I would love to see him in a Cincinnati uniform—at half that amount.
Cliff Eastham is a B/R Featured Columnist for the Cincinnati Reds