Over the past several days, Bay has seen the Los Angeles Angels take a giant step backward, and then his own agent take a baby step away from the Boston Red Sox after negotiations weren't to his liking.
That we know of, Bay has an offer from the Red Sox (the one, again, that caused his agent, Joe Urbon, to walk) and another from the New York Mets, both thought to be in the range of $60-$65 million over four years.
He also is drawing an undetermined level of interest from the Mariners and Angels, perhaps could be a fallback option for the Yankees and Cardinals, and would seem to be just what the Giants need, but the Giants are strangely reluctant to sign anyone who might make life easier for Bruce Bochy or the pitching staff.
Maybe it's as simple as the first team to go to five years (and the $15-$16 million average annual value) gets Bay, who just turned 31 and had a very productive season in Boston. There's value in that, too, which the Red Sox recognize.
Not everyone can show up in places such as New York and Boston and perform and keep the wolves at arm's length, appreciation that turns up in contracts in New York for Jorge Posada(notes) and Mariano Rivera(notes), that could turn up in a contract for Johnny Damon(notes), and that will turn up for Derek Jeter(notes), in spite of age and return risks. Some of Theo Epstein's advisors prefer Bay to Holliday for precisely that reason – Bay has proven he will produce in Boston, while Holliday has done his work in Colorado, Oakland and St. Louis.
While Bay almost never comes out of the lineup – he's played at least 145 games for five years – one team in need of a left fielder says it is leery of possible knee issues down the line. It sounds like a rationalization for stopping at four years, as Bay had a minor cleanup scope on his left knee after the 2006 season and hasn't seemed to have a problem since. Regardless, at a time when Holliday could be driving toward the seven- or eight-year contract, Bay seems to be having trouble getting to five. The Mets seem most likely to get there.
What we know is Bay will turn up in someone's left field and hit.
Meantime, Urbon's early declaration that Bay was this winter's most complete free agent apparently won't be recognized by the market. Holliday's agent, Scott Boras, would only say that “multiple teams” are in on his client. The only known offer is by the St. Louis Cardinals, who presumably went bigger than the contract under which Albert Pujols(notes) is playing, which is for $100 million over seven years. Boras has dropped Mark Teixeira's(notes) name enough to convince everyone not in the room that Teixeira's eight-year, $180-million contract with the Yankees is at least a reference point. The Cardinals didn't go that high, or Boras would have held that press conference by now.
Cardinals GM John Mozeliak was as of Monday morning waiting to hear back from Boras and exploring other outfield options – Bay, perhaps, but maybe more likely someone like Mark DeRosa(notes) or even Mike Cameron(notes).
The Holliday market appears fluid and Boras has made all the predictable stops: Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cardinals and Giants, and some less predictable – Braves, Orioles and Mariners.
Every one of them has a reason to sign Holliday, who won't be 30 until next month. Maybe even the Angels, should they lose out on John Lackey(notes), fail to strike a deal for Roy Halladay(notes) and find nowhere else to turn, jump in. Unless they sign Bay first.
The market is funny that way.