Sox won't go to fifth year for Bay

December, 12, 2009

Here is where the Jason Bay negotiations stand, boiled down to their simplest terms: The Red Sox have no intention of offering the left fielder a five-year deal, a baseball source with direct knowledge of the negotiations said Saturday.

If another team--and a likely candidate would be the New York Mets -- elects to do so, the Red Sox assume that Bay will depart from Boston. "If another club offers him five years, my guess is he'll take it in the next few days,'' the source said.

The source also said that while it was true that Bay had turned down the Red Sox latest offer, as Bay's agent, Joe Urbon, told FoxSports earlier in the day and confirmed with ESPN Boston, the total value of the package was for roughly the same $60 million Bay had turned down in midsummer. The difference, the source said, was in how the contract was structured, suggesting there may have been a vesting option in the earlier proposal.

The Mets reportedly have offered Bay a deal between $60 million and $65 million. The other team besides the Mets and Red Sox known to have interest in Bay is the Seattle Mariners, but while GM Jack Zduriencik has money to spend, they would seem to be an unlikely candidate to offer Bay a fifth year. The Mariners also have some interest in retaining third baseman Adrian Beltre or signing a front-line starting pitcher, like John Lackey.

The Los Angeles Angels, once considered a prime contender for Bay, publicly said last week that they have more pressing issues, namely starting pitching, but it's conceivable, though unlikely, that they could return to Bay.

The Red Sox are also looking at free-agent left-fielder Matt Holliday, but so far agent Scott Boras is still at the point where he is looking for Holliday to make as grand a score as Mark Teixeira did last winter, so serious negotiating has yet to begin.

Boras also represents Beltre, whom the Red Sox have targeted to replace Mike Lowell if they trade him, as planned, to Texas, but those negotiations also figure to be protracted.

Could the Red Sox envision a scenario in which they do not land Bay, Holliday or Beltre? Yes, but it's unlikely. In that case, they would probably look at a platoon in left field with Jeremy Hermida and a right-handed bat, a short-term solution at third, which could even mean shifting Kevin Youkilis to third and playing Casey Kotchman at first, and would more aggressively pursue a trade with San Diego for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

But while the winter meetings ended two days ago, the selling season still has a long way to go.

More moves

The Red Sox, as expected, did not tender a contract to outfielder Brian Anderson, a midsummer acquisition from the White Sox. They also announced that they had signed pitcher Boof Bonser, acquired earlier in the week from the Twins, to a one-year nonguaranteed contract. To complete the deal, the Red Sox sent right-handed pitcher Chris Province, who pitched out of the bullpen for Double-A Portland last season, to the Twins.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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