The Seattle Mariners came to the Winter Meetings this week looking to add some pop to their anemic lineup. The M’s also needed to add to their outfield after trading long-time right fielder Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees. The team may be on the verge of hitting on both those targets as they close in on a deal for free agent Jason Bay.
Bay became a free agent last month after agreeing to part ways with the New York Mets after three seasons. The veteran outfielder has had difficulty staying healthy in recent years, playing in more than 100 games in two of the last four years. The 34-year old Bay is coming off one of his worst seasons of his career, where he appeared in just 70 games, hitting .165 with a .536 OPS. He had just eight home runs with 20 RBI.
The Mariners and Bay are likely hoping that a change in scenery with a clean bill of health will make a world of difference for the big swinging Canadian. The move would be a homecoming of sorts for Bay who played college baseball at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and grew up just north of Seattle across the border in British Columbia.
Both parties hope that Bay can return to the form we last saw in 2009, when Bay was with the Boston Red Sox and hit .267 with a .921 OPS, hitting 36 home runs and 119 RBI. He was named to the All Star team and won a Silver Slugger Award while finishing seventh in the MVP race.
There are concerns about whether Bay still has that same power in his bat or if injuries and age have caused him to lose it. He’ll be helped out in Safeco Field, traditionally a notorious pitcher’s park, as the Mariners have announced they will move in the fences to make the outfield a little less spacious.
If healthy, Bay will be an offensive improvement over the carousel of inconsistent outfielders that the Mariners have shuffled in and out of the lineup over the last few seasons.