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To Bay or Not to Bay?

by Chris Clinton

As the free agency heats up in the offseason, teams begin reassembling what they hope will be a championship contending team. The Boston Red Sox are no exception as they have many decisions to make. Two players previously on the Boston Red Sox have already signed with new teams (Alex Gonzalez and Billy Wagner), and this makes fans begin to wonder when the team will solve their problem in left field and shortstop (update: Red Sox acquired SS Marco Scutaro). The general consensus is to bring back Jason Bay as their left fielder and sign a defensive stud to play shortstop. In a market as thin as this year, signing Jason Bay will take a huge sum of money as power hitters are scarce this free agency. But instead of breaking the bank for Jason Bay and upping their 4 year 60 million dollar offer, they should consider signing a slightly less powerful version of Jason Bay at a much lesser cost.

One possible player is Jermaine Dye. Over their careers they have been very similar players, around 30 home runs on average with Bay’s career average being .280 and Dye’s .274. Last year Bay set a career high with 36 home runs and Dye had his lowest home run total since 2003 with 19. Although Dye is showing signs of getting older, signing him to a 1 year 8 million dollar incentive laden contract has a low risk with a high reward. To entice his interest more, the Red Sox can throw an option for another 8 million dollar that will vest upon a certain number of at bats. In 2008, Dye batted .292 with 34 home runs and 96 RBI’s. He is just one option to replace Jason Bay at a much lower cost. The Red Sox also have a few prospects waiting in the minor league system that could provide a safety net for Dye. Josh Reddick, who saw some time this year, showed flashes of being a potential every day starter for the Red Sox and there is no reason to think that he won’t be ready in the next few years.

As the Red Sox have shown in recent years, they aren’t scared to pull the trigger on a trade. If the Red Sox are on a “win-now” mentality, which is what a lot of re-signing Bay supporters are saying, they would be much better off going out and trading for an Adrian Gonzalez who will make Red Sox fans be saying Jason who? I stress that trading for Adrian Gonzalez requires a must “win-now” mentality as they will have to throw many of their top prospects at the Padres to pry Gonzalez and his very respectable contract (4.875 million for 2010) from them. Red Sox executives need to ask themselves if Jason Bay is truly going to be the piece they need in order to return to the World Series. In addition, they need to evaluate if they are settling on giving him a huge contract because the market is thin. Only time will tell but the way I see it they have other options with much less risk and possibly a great reward.


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