Jason Bay(notes), the second-most coveted position player on a free-agent market starved for offense, has agreed to a four-year contract with the New York Mets pending a physical, according to various reports.
After what appeared to be a vain attempt to lure another team or two into the bidding – and a reluctance to play at Citi Field and/or for the Mets – Bay reportedly agreed to a deal that will pay him $66 million over four years, according to Metsblog.com and the New York Post. A vesting option would bring the value of the contract to about $80 million over five years.
A physical examination would focus on Bay's throwing shoulder, which required surgery six years ago and continues to be a conversation topic, and on his knee, which reportedly has been an occasional bother since arthroscopic surgery three years ago. It could be a week before the deal is official.
Serving as the room in a one-man auction, the Mets resisted going beyond four years for Bay. They have compromised on a fifth season that vests easily, for the moment putting him in an outfield (and batting order) with center fielder Carlos Beltran(notes) and right fielder Jeff Francoeur(notes).
The Red Sox, for whom he hit 45 home runs and drove in 156 runs in 200 games since being traded from the Pirates, bowed out early and signed Mike Cameron(notes) instead. The Cardinals never viewed him as a potential replacement for Holliday. The Angels signed Hideki Matsui(notes) to be their DH and promised him a shot at left field. The Mariners traded for Milton Bradley(notes). The Yankees continue to insist they'll go cheap in left.
That pretty much left the Mets, who lost 92 games and hit only 49 home runs in a new ballpark that swallowed fly balls. Their 95 home runs overall were the least in baseball – and 129 fewer than the division-rival Phillies hit.
Bay, 31, hit a career-high 36 home runs for the Red Sox last season, though his batting average slipped to .267.