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Bay extension talks halted

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  March 15, 2009 11:47 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After recent "substantive" negotiations regarding a contract extension, the Red Sox and Jason Bay have postponed discussions for now because of the "unusual marketplace," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. Bay, who the Red Sox acquired last season from the Pittsburgh Pirates when they traded Manny Ramirez, is signed through the end of the 2009 season.

"There's desire to get something done on both sides," Epstein said. "There's just a mutual recognition right now that it's going to be next to impossible to get something done. It really boils down to the nature of the market right now, more than anything else."

Bay is entering the final year of a four-year, $18.25 million contract he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to the 2006 season. He is slated to earn $7.5 million this season.

"There's nothing I can do about the market or that I'm a free-agent," Bays said. "If something comes up that makes sense we'll consider it.

"I felt like when I came over here [from Pittsburgh]. It was like I was a free-agent. If you could pick a place, this would be the top of your list."

The Red Sox wanted to extend Bay's contract, but the team and Bay could not reconcile the volatile free agent market. An example: Both Adam Dunn and Pat Burrell -- two veteran outfielders seemingly in the prime of their careers -- both signed two-year free agent deals that actually reduced their salaries.

"The market has changed so much from two years ago to this winter, from a year ago to now," Epstein said. "Who knows where it's going to be a year from now? So that unpredictability, I think, has created a landscape that's been difficult for us to navigate in terms of getting an extension done a year early. Both sides wanted it, so we tried. But both sides recognized that it's just too difficult to get done right now.

"We had some talks [earlier in the offseason], but they weren't really substantive. Recently, we've had more substantive talks. It's become clear that because of the unusual marketplace, we're not going to get anything done during spring training. We're going to sort of halt talks for now, just table them. But both sides have committed to maintaining good dialouge throughout the course of the season."

After coming to the Red Sox on July 31 last year, Bay hit .293 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs in 49 games with Boston. In total last season, Bay hit .286 with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs.

Epstein revealed the news about Bay after officially annoucing Jon Lester's contract extension, which was first reported last Sunday by Yahoo! Sports.

Note (added at 3:28 p.m.): A few commenters have pointed out that Bay's agent is Scott Boras. This is not true. Bay's agent was once Boras. It is now Jon Urbon of the Octagon agency. Glad we got that cleared up.

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