The Bay saga had several twists
Great job of reporting by Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, giving readers an in-depth look at all the twists and turns that ultimately led to no deal between Jason Bay and the Red Sox.
First, Bradford confirmed what was reported earlier this week by MLB.com’s Peter Gammons — that Bay and the Sox had agreed on a four-year, $60 million deal in July, only to have it fall apart due to a medical dispute. Bradford’s account is the first time that Bay confirms the story.
“That,” Bay tells Bradford, “is just one-tenth of the story.”
Bay took a physical in July, and the Red Sox’s medical staff had some red flags, namely the condition of the left fielder’s knees. Bay’s agent Joe Urbon had come to Boston, presumably for a press conference announcing the new deal. Instead, general manager Theo Epstein informed him of the team’s concerns, and the deal was put on hold.
The Red Sox said that they would keep Bay’s AAV — average annual value — the same, at $15 million per year. But they wanted protection in the third and fourth year, in the event Bay’s knees and shoulder acted up. The team also wanted Bay to undergo surgery at the end of the 2009 season.
Bay felt that his knees were fine and sought the advice of another doctor, who confirmed his belief.
The sides revisited the situation in the offseason, when Urbon informed Epstein of the second opinion. The sides than agreed to get a third opinion, and once again, Bay was given a clean bill of health.
On the first night of the Winter Meetings, according to Bradford, Epstein updated his proposal and made it three years guaranteed, with protection for the fourth year. The Red Sox also wanted Bay to pay part of the insurance policy he would need.
“Listen, I could understand the club wanting all these medical contingencies if I had spent any recent time on the DL,” Bay said to WEEI.com, “but I had no history of being a risk for injuries and I wasn’t hurt.”
At any rate, Bay found another suitor — the Mets — that didn’t share Boston’s concerns about his long-term health. And that was where he ended up.
If Bay has knee problems at some point over the next four years, the Red Sox will be proven right to take the conservative approach they did. If not, perhaps they will have regrets about losing out on the slugging left fielder, who fit in so well to the fabric of the team during his year and a half.