It’s the first day of the GM Winter Meetings, and already there has been a big splash in the free agent market. In a surprising move, the New York Mets have decided to part ways with Left Fielder Jason Bay a year earlier than his contract intended. He has been bought out for the remaining $21M that he was owed, including next year’s $16M salary, $3M Buyout and $2M from signing bonuses. This frees Bay up to sign with any team that he wants, especially those seeking a Left Fielder, which would include the Blue Jays.
Alex Anthopoulos, I know you’ve been waiting to splurge money to bring in big names to the Toronto Blue Jays via free agency, but Jason Bay is not your guy!
Look, I know there will be a small contingent of fans who would love the turn of true patriotism by bringing more Canadian players to the ball club, but Bay will not provide what you’re looking for in a left field upgrade. Right now you have Rajai Davis in left field as your main option. He can provide speed on the bases, as he was 2nd in the majors last year in stolen bases with 46. He was 6th on the team last year in OBP with .309 (with players over 300 AB). Most importantly, you have a likely bench player with a contract for 2013 worth $2.5M, which is very, very cost effective.
Jason Bay is a mess of a player to bring in as an improvement. Last year, his slash line over 215 PA was .165/.237/.299. That’s right, he slugged lower than Davis got on base last year. He also has a history of injuries, including two concussions. His strikeout rate over the last two years is around 24%, which is very troubling considering that Rajai had a strikeout rate of around 19% the last two years as a player known to strike out against right handed pitching (the majority of pitchers). His defense in left field is a slight upgrade, but still nets negative value at -7.7 UZR/150 career. Even worse, he has a worse throwing arm than Davis using the rARM statistic (Outfield Arms Runs Saved), saving 0 runs over the last 2 years while Rajai saved 5 runs. Considering how painful Rajai can appear in left field throwing home, somehow Bay would be even worse for the Jays. The Jason Bay that hit 30+ home runs and slugged north of .500 is no more, and it isn’t worth it to gamble on him, even if you were to offer him a quarter of what he would have been awarded next year in $4M.
I could go into long tangents about how bad Bay would be for the club, but what should be considered is that there are much better options are out there. Melky Cabrera, Shane Victorino, Cody Ross, Ryan Ludwick are all available and should be within the confines of the Blue Jays monetary restrictions. Heck, even taking the PR-risky Delmon Young or platooning Jonny Gomes with Davis in left would be an improvement. There is a goldmine of players in left field in free agency that would fit in left for the Toronto Blue Jays. Jason Bay just won’t cut it in the American League East anymore.