Washington Nationals Need To Trade for Jason Bay and They Can Get Him Cheap

Farid RushdiAnalyst IFebruary 22, 2011

Bay: Injured with the Mets
Bay: Injured with the MetsJim McIsaac/Getty Images

Roger Bernadina could possibly be playing left field for the Washington Nationals in 2011. Michael Morse will be in left, at least against southpaw pitchers. And If Bernadina falters, look for Rick Ankiel to play the majority of the time there.

Doesn’t sound terribly promising, does it?

Time to trade for Jason Bay, I guess. And really, they should.

If the Nationals were still years away from contending, then the above-mentioned triumvirate would make sense. Another 70-win team wouldn’t need another slugger. But the current roster has enough talent to be within shouting distance of .500 and 2012 will bring the return of Stephen Strasburg and possibly the introduction of Bryce Harper.

Add an all-star free agent this off season and the team could actually contend next year.

The Nationals have the money to pay Jayson Bay and they have the prospects to pry him away from the New York Mets, who will likely be newly-crowned National League East cellar-dweller by the end of the season.

They need to get young and by the time they are ready to contend again, Jason Bay will have long since moved on. New York is in the same position now that the Nationals were at the end of the 2006 season when they let Alfonso Soriano walk away.

And Bay wouldn’t cost the Nationals a great deal of money either.

Playing in just 95 games due to injury—and getting beat by CitiField’s deep power alley’s, Bay had his first off-season of his career, batting just .259-6-47 in 348 at-bats. But over his career the 32-year-old has averaged .280/.375/.519 with 33 home runs and 109 RBI.

He is 100% healthy heading into spring training now that the effects of his most recent concussion have dissipated, but the Mets still have the sour taste of last season in their mouth as well as the knowledge that Bay succumbed to the team’s spacious home park without much of a fight.

Add to that the $48 million that they still owe Bay over the next three seasons and I’m sure that a trade would be welcomed. Getting out from under his excessive contract—and getting a prospect or two—would help the Mets immeasurably as team owner Fred Wilpon’s financial woes continue to get sorted out.

This is how the Nationals’ middle-of-the-order would look with the addition of Bay. The statistics shown are the player’s yearly averages over the past three seasons:

3B—Ryan Zimmerman: .294-29-97

RF—Jayson Werth: .280-32-91

LF—Jason Bay: .267-32-110

1B—Adam LaRoche: .270-28-100

What would Bay cost the Nationals? If the Nationals agree to cover his entire contract—which they can afford to do—it would cost them fewer players.

The Nationals could afford to trade Morse, perhaps one of their young catchers—Jesus Flores would be my choice—and a C+ or B- prospect from the lower minor leagues. It might cost them another player, a non-prospect prospect as it were, but certainly he wouldn’t cost any more than that.

Or they could trade Danny Espinosa in a one-for-one deal and trust that Stephen Lombardozzi is polished enough to become the team’s everyday second baseman (my guess is that he is).

He’s just too old and too expensive for the Mets, but not for the Nationals.

The Nationals are the better team. I mean, who would you want for your team?

1B—Ike Davis or Adam Laroche? (LaRoche because of the experience)

2B—Luis Castillo or Danny Espinosa? (Espinosa hands down for a number of reasons)

SS—Jose Reyes or Ian Desmond? (Reyes looks better but he has Nick Johnson health)

3B—Ryan Zimmerman or David Wright? (No question from my perspective; it’s Zim)

LF—Bernadina/Morse or Jason Bay? (Bay of Course)

CF—Nyger Morgan or Carlos Beltran? (Once he starts playing 140 games again, it’s Beltran)

RF—Jayson Werth or Nick Evans? (One player cost $126 million, the other $500,000. You guess)

C—Flores/Rodriguez/Ramos or Ronnie Paulino? (I’ll take any one of the Nats’ three over Paulino)

The Nationals bullpen is better from top to bottom as is their bench. The Mets starting rotation tilts to the boys in blue, but only until Stephen Strasburg returns sometime this summer.

No, Jayson Bay doesn’t belong in New York. He belongs in Washington, partly because he has a quality bat and he plays defense very well and partly because he was once a star-in-the-making in the Expos organization before being traded to the Mets for Lou Collier.

His return to the organization would make everything just seem right, don’t you think?

If Bay can continue to produce into his mid-30’s, he could be part of what will become a famous outfield that could include Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper. And by the time that Bay begins to slow, Eury Perez—who has averaged .293/.390/.402 with 43 stolen bases in his time in the minors will be ready to take over in two or three seasons.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has the opportunity to bring in a great player with two or three quality years left in him, and will one day be replaced by perhaps the greatest high school bat of all time. It’s a Wally Pipp moment if I ever saw one.

And Bay will be remembered as that guy who helped a bad team become respectable, and then in his last year came off of the bench to lead them to the World Series.

Oh, there won’t be statues of Jason Bay around like they are of Frank Howard, but at least people will remember what he did for the town and its people. The fans need to remember Jayson Bay like they do the Capitol Punisher.

Now just go get him. I’ll wait.


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