Mariners Sign Jason Bay
As expected, the Mariners have apparently agreed to sign Jason Bay. Unexpectedly, there was a minor bidding war for the services of a guy who hit .165 last year, and according to Jon Heyman, they had to give him a one year “seven figure” contract to get him to come to Seattle. I’m going to assume that the deal is as close to $1 million as possible, because every dollar above the league minimum just makes me sadder.
I wrote a bit about Bay yesterday, so I’ll just sum up here – it’s a low enough cost that it probably won’t matter, but I don’t really see any role for Bay on this roster either. He’s not better than Casper Wells at anything, and if he actually makes the team in lieu of Wells, the Mariners will be worse off for it. When people say deals like this have “no downside”, they’re ignoring the fact that the team could irrationally fall in love with Bay’s veteran presence and give him playing time that should go to a younger, better talent. There is downside here – it’s that Bay becomes the new Miguel Olivo, holding the team back from maximizing the talent on hand.
Of course, the more likely scenario is that this is just a repeat of the Carlos Guillen experiment from last spring. They gave him $1 million to be a veteran presence and show he was healthy in Arizona, only he showed up to camp and realized he was bad, old, and didn’t want to play baseball anymore, so he retired instead. There’s probably a decent chance of that happening here with Bay too. Or, if he’s dreadful, they’ll just cut him as they did with Hong-Chih Kuo last spring. A major league deal doesn’t guarantee he’ll make the team.
So, don’t freak out. It probably isn’t going to turn into anything. Bay’s bad, and that will likely be obvious in spring training. Hopefully, when Casper Wells runs circles around him, it will become obvious that there’s no role for Bay here, and this will all be a false alarm. We can start kvetching about this in April if Wells is dumped on waivers while Bay grabs the fourth outfielder job. Until then, there’s no reason to overreact.