Former Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay has agreed to a four-year deal with the New York Mets, all but officially ending his tenure in Boston, according to several published reports.
The deal was first reported by New York’s “WFAN” radio station. WFAN afternoon host Mike Francesa says the deal is pending a physical, and that the Mets will announce the deal early next week.
The New York Post’s Joel Sherman says the deal is for 4 years and $66 million. But the deal also includes a vesting option year that could increase Bay’s overall payout to slightly more than $80 million over five years, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. According to Crasnick, Bay’s vesting option is impingent on targets in plate appearances, targets that Bay should have a good chance to reach if he stays healthy.
Bay had previously turned down a 4-year, $60 million offer to remain in Boston.
The Mets had been in negotiations with Bay and his agent for some time, making an offer to the free agent slugger several weeks ago. Bay did not immediately bite on the offer, presumably waiting for an offer of more than four years guaranteed, but no such deal materialized. He fills a huge hole in left field for the Mets, who slid to a 70-92 mark last season. New York ranked last in the major leagues with 95 home runs in 2009.
Bay, who spent the last season and a half with the Red Sox, was considered one of the prizes of this year’s free agent market. He batted .267 last season with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs for the Red Sox this past season, but concerns about his defense, and the length of a potential new contract, sealed his way out of Boston.
While a return to Boston was technically possible for Bay, the presence of Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew, and the newly-acquired Mike Cameron in the Red Sox outfield made Bay’s return a longshot.
Bay and left fielder Matt Holliday were the biggest hitters on the market this offseason. Holliday, who split last season in Oakland and St. Louis, is reportedly looking for an even richer deal than Bay.
If and when Bay officially signs with the Mets, the Red Sox will receive two draft picks, a sandwich pick and the Met’s second-round pick, as compensation, giving the Sox four picks in the first 50 selections of next year’s draft.