The Mets have signed Jason Bay, reportedly their #1 target of the offseason. The price tag is said to be $66 million for four years, or $16.5 million a year, with a vesting option for a fifth year. I’ll leave the in-depth analysis to Evan Brunell, the folks at Fangraphs and others, but I wanted to add my own two cents as a Mets’ fan.
Bay fits several key needs for the Mets. He’s a power hitter who plays left field, though not particularly well. Bay is an “old” 31, with troublesome knees, so I expect his fielding to worsen over the length of this contract. He’s a right-handed power hitter; the Mets need power, though they’d prefer to get it from a left-handed batter. He has no speed to speak of—Bay’s value is in his powerful bat.
That price tag essentially means that Bay needs to average three-to-four wins above replacement to justify the deal. Last year, he posted 3.5 WAR, 3.1 the year before. So it’s conceivable that Bay’s performance could justify this contract. I wouldn’t bet on it, though. He’s more likely to average in the 2′s for the length of this contract with perhaps significant time lost to injury. I think the Mets won’t get their money’s worth from Jason Bay, and while he will help the team, he won’t have a dramatic impact on their pennant probabilities. That is, the extra “stretch” in money isn’t clearly justified here.
On the other hand, Bay is a good fit for their needs, he won’t be blocking any star prospects and shouldn’t be a burden on the Mets’ budget. So I’m glad they pulled the trigger on this deal. What’s more, there are a lot of minor stories to follow, such as wondering how the switch to CitiField will affect his production and celebrating his return to a team that never should have traded him away.