If you asked former Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield, Jason Bay would have already had a $7 million contract signed, sealed and delivered. The only problem with that is it’s about $6.25 million too much to acquire a player past his prime for an absurd amount of money (See Matt Morris trade).
On Saturday, unconfirmed reports emerged claiming that Jason Bay would have no choice but to retire due to lack of interest from MLB clubs, citing Japan as his only chance to wear a uniform in 2014.
Bay spent the 2013 season with the Seattle Mariners, appearing in 68 games for the club and posting a triple slash line of .204/.298/.293, with 11 home runs. He saw limited playing time over the last couple of seasons due to injuries; a concussion sustained in a collision with the outfield wall and a broken rib from a diving attempt.
His offensive output has dropped significantly since what some would consider his best year in 2009 as a member of the Boston Red Sox. It was during that season where Bay stayed healthy, appearing in 151 games with a TSL of .267/.384/.537 with 36 homers, earning a trip to the All-Star Game and the AL Silver Slugger Award.
As mentioned earlier, it was not too long ago that the Pirates’ hot stove season was riddled with signings of these types of players. They would have offered a one-year contract at $6 million and fans would have been excited because of all of the good times Bay had patrolling the Pittsburgh outfield along with his offensive power and productivity. There have been some fans already suggesting that the Pirates should send him an invite to Spring Training, but that is a horrid idea for a couple of reasons.
First, and most importantly, the Pirates really have no place to put him. As mentioned in this earlier article, left field and center field are already occupied by Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen, respectively. Right field has a solid battle to start the season, until the expected arrival of phenom Gregory Polanco. A secondary reason is that it is simply too big of a gamble. He’s old. He’s damaged goods. No one can be sure how he will perform after the last couple of shortened seasons.
Bay does have some upside that could land him on the right team — that is, a team in need for a strong defender and someone that could potentially hit for power. He can be signed for cheap, say $750k at most. He is an above average defender and had a solid season with the Seattle Mariners last year, appearing in 58 games and committing zero errors while playing all three of the outfield positions. Jason Bay could have another good season or two left in him for a team that is willing to take a gamble.
Vinny Gala is a Pittsburgh Pirates writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.