Mariners Sign Jason Bay

Dave · December 5, 2012 at 11:50 am · Filed Under Mariners 

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.


65 Responses to “Mariners Sign Jason Bay”

  1. stevemotivateir on December 5th, 2012 11:56 am

    Minor detail, but as of right now, wouldn’t Thames be the one at risk of losing a roster spot, rather than Wells? I’m sure this wont be the last move for an outfielder, but I really don’t see this as very threatening. I’ll hold the panic for now.

  2. vertigoman on December 5th, 2012 11:59 am

    I’m going to look on the bright side.
    He’s hit well vs lefties his entire career around 890 ops I believe.
    As recently as 2011 he hit slightly better vs. Lefties. 900+ops.
    He sucked in a very well rounded fashion in ’12 and I can trick myself into thinking that some head injuries had something to do with it.
    We’ll see what the deal is. Hopefully anything north of league min is some kind of incentive.

    Down side, how in the hell did Bay just get a raise???

  3. stevemotivateir on December 5th, 2012 12:06 pm

    Funny, I suggested Thames might be “at risk” of losing a roster spot. Really, neither should be on the roster. And that would probably be the most likely outcome.

  4. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2012 12:12 pm

    “Hopefully, when Casper Wells runs circles around him…”

    Comically, this is completely plausible in my mind… Like a sheep dog running circles around an old cow, yapping at it’s heels… The old cow jerking around, cowbell jangling…


  5. msfanmike on December 5th, 2012 12:12 pm

    This is the calm before the storm. Jack is just warming up as he builds toward a crescendo of beneficial moves.

    A 7 figure deal. Wow.

    On a minor league contract with a spring training invite – it makes some sense. This particular deal makes less sense.

  6. Westside guy on December 5th, 2012 12:14 pm

    Wasting a million bucks on a reclamation project is ludicrous. This lowers my opinion of our current front office.

  7. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2012 12:17 pm

    Westy has a point.

    Update: “The old cow jerking around, TITANIUM cow bell jangling, GOLD PLATED HOOFS HOPPING…”

  8. Westside guy on December 5th, 2012 12:19 pm

    Haha, well then so does Mike since he said basically the same thing (albeit in a calmer, more rational manner) – and before I did. :-D

  9. Mekias on December 5th, 2012 12:21 pm

    This move is ridiculous. There’s almost no chance Bay will even be replacement level. He’s had no recent success to even give us hope that he can be good again.

    They just threw $1 million down the toilet and might have only succeeded in making the Mariners worse.

  10. Doug1060 on December 5th, 2012 12:24 pm

    I agree with Westy above. If the organization doesn’t add a valuable young player (one with a good average/hits for power in this park) there is no plan other than player development.

  11. Thievery on December 5th, 2012 12:24 pm

    I’m with Dave on this, but I seriously hope this isn’t a “Plan D: Break Glass in Case of Emergency” signing in the event the team doesn’t land Swisher, Hamilton, or Bourn. Because if we break camp with Jason Bay as our everyday left fielder, it ain’t gonna be pretty…

  12. bubba_gump on December 5th, 2012 12:28 pm

    Figgins just turned very tall and very white.

  13. vertigoman on December 5th, 2012 12:29 pm

    Divish is saying it’s not 7 figures

    Let’s hope it’s not for 8!

  14. vertigoman on December 5th, 2012 12:32 pm

    Like Dave suggested, don’t freak right now.
    There is nothing suggesting they pla to make him an everyday player much less an everyday OFer.
    We sign guys like this every year. They rarely work out and there’s little risk at this point.

  15. stevemotivateir on December 5th, 2012 12:33 pm

    Yeah, the biggest surprise by far, is the price tag. Has that even been confirmed yet, though?

  16. joealb1 on December 5th, 2012 12:34 pm

    Great, Mike Sweeney without the bat.

  17. Liam on December 5th, 2012 12:37 pm

    Why did we have to give him anything more than the league minimum?

    “Players released under contract are paid their full salary by their old team, minus whatever salary the new team is paying if they get employed elsewhere. So, the Mariners could offer Byrnes $9 million a year, but it wouldn’t matter, because he’d still get $11 million – he’d just get most of it from Seattle instead of Arizona, but his overall paycheck wouldn’t change” – The Obligatory Eric Byrnes Post

  18. vertigoman on December 5th, 2012 12:42 pm

    I think the confusion on that centers around the deferred money agreement Bay and the Mets came to. Still can’t see how that would circumvent the CBA though.
    Divish is usually correct when he quotes a source.
    doubt it’s for anything guaranteed over league min

  19. Steve Nelson on December 5th, 2012 12:49 pm


    Why did we have to give him anything more than the league minimum?

    “Players released under contract are paid their full salary by their old team, minus whatever salary the new team is paying if they get employed elsewhere. So, the Mariners could offer Byrnes $9 million a year, but it wouldn’t matter, because he’d still get $11 million – he’d just get most of it from Seattle instead of Arizona, but his overall paycheck wouldn’t change”

    That’s true if a player is released under contract, as usually happens when a player receives an outright release. But Bay was not released under contract. His contract was terminated after buyout, making him an unconditional free agent. He receives the full amount of whatever contract he signed in addition to the payments he negotiated with the Mets as part of the buyout.

  20. don52656 on December 5th, 2012 12:53 pm

    I would be totally unworried about this development if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve already seen that Eric Wedge is completely capable of picking the wrong person to be on a team and in the lineup. Jason Bay might turn out to be useful, but that doesn’t mean he’ll have to be batting cleanup next season.

  21. wsm on December 5th, 2012 12:55 pm

    Pretty sure the reports on the 7 digit contract are erroneous.

    Fangraphs quoted Zdurenciek saying he was happy with a Jaso/Montero catching platoon. That makes me think Bay is going to take the spot of “Defensive Catcher” and platoon with Jaso.

    If there’s one consistency in Jack’s approach its that he hates lousy outfield defense. Bay’s outfield time is going to be at a minimum and I don’t think he’s going to factor into the 4th outfielder role.

  22. Steve Nelson on December 5th, 2012 12:56 pm

    Divish says: “Heyman also mentioned that Bay is getting a 7-figure contract. But I’ve been told by a source within the organization that number is false and that’s somewhere around $700,000.”

    $700,000 looks like a “7″-figure number to me. :)

  23. Westside guy on December 5th, 2012 1:02 pm

    If there’s one consistency in Jack’s approach its that he hates lousy outfield defense.

    Alex Liddi and Carlos Peguero say hello, wsm. :-D

    Wedge makes those decisions.

  24. 6-4-3 on December 5th, 2012 1:17 pm

    If this deal in any way reduces the likelihood of the Mariners signing a player who has a good chance of contributing then it’s a terrible signing. Otherwise it’s probably no big deal, as Dave suggests.

  25. bookbook on December 5th, 2012 1:20 pm

    Apparently, it isn’t sidetracking our hot pursuit of Ibanez. Bourne’s going to have a lot of outfield turf to cover…

  26. Jake on December 5th, 2012 1:23 pm

    Yay, it’s Chris Shelton part two.

  27. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2012 1:26 pm

    “Don’t forget me!” says Trayvon Robinson, to Westy and WSM.

    “Or us!” Carp and Figgins say.

    Although me thinks it has more to do with Wedge’s idea that “anyone can play the outfield”, than anything Z holds dear.

  28. dang on December 5th, 2012 1:32 pm

    What about the possibility he has a good year or two left in him?

  29. ThanatosK on December 5th, 2012 1:36 pm

    Ha ha ha ha ahahahahahahah!!!! I knew it would come at some point but still funny to see. I feel for Mets fans. Per…

    If the Mets decide to pursue a free agent catcher, Miguel Olivo will be at the top of their list of targets, according to Adam Rubin of

  30. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2012 1:38 pm

    This from Seattle Times:

    “ADDITIONAL NOTE 12:46 p.m.: My source tells me that “nothing is finalized yet” on the Jason Bay front. He apparently has taken a physical already and the Mariners have a six-figure offer on the table, but nothing has been signed off on. So, while it still seems highly probable that Bay is joining the Mariners, nothing is done yet and it’s very unlikely anything will get announced before the team leaves Nashville.”

  31. Steve Nelson on December 5th, 2012 1:43 pm

    Olivo -> Mets
    Bay -> Mariners

    Mets and Mariners fans each laughing at each other.

  32. heyoka on December 5th, 2012 1:49 pm

    I feel a compulsion to overreact.

  33. Westside guy on December 5th, 2012 1:53 pm

    ^ Yeah, some people here are being entirely too reasonable! :-D

    Love the idea that we’re swapping Olivo for Bay – although Olivo probably has more actual “value”, relatively speaking.

  34. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2012 1:58 pm

    Anyone else see in Geoff Baker’s “Live Chat” log yesterday (maybe today?) that he and Dave had a “nice talk” yesterday?

    And then… In the same chat Baker defended Dave from a Seattle Times commenter’s attack.

    Time to go ice skating in Hades?

    (I give Geoff credit for telling the guy something I bet Dave would agree with– that sometimes showing confidence in your opinion via the internet can come off looking a bit arrogant.)

  35. Jake on December 5th, 2012 2:08 pm

    Steve: The difference between the Mets/Olivo Mariners/Bay is pretty glaring considering the Mariners are off the hook on paying Olivo any more money, but the Mets are still paying Bay a boatload. Sure Mets fans laugh, but we’re laughing harder!

    Trying to be optimistic.

  36. ThanatosK on December 5th, 2012 2:22 pm

    Hey Dave, I know you’re posting just about as fast as the rumors are coming up but can we get a few words on Dee Gordon? I’ve seen it pop up a few times that the Mariners were talking to the Dodgers about a trade for him. Thoughts? His speed is great, his OBP sucks, but his speed is great. Oh, did I mention he was fast? What do you think we’d have to give up for him and would he be useful to us in reality?

  37. Westside guy on December 5th, 2012 2:23 pm

    BTW I will say that Wedge’s comments regarding Bay seemed entirely reasonable – he used an awful lot of “if”s.

  38. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2012 2:25 pm

    Interesting to ponder:

    (rumor) Orioles Want to Trade Asdrubal Cabrera
    (rumor) Orioles are interested in Dee Gordon
    (rumor) Seattle talked to LA about Dee Gordon


    Perhaps we have two players both the Dodgers AND the Orioles would like… And then, something fun like Player A to Orioles, Player B to Dodgers, Gordon To Orioles… Cabrera back to Mariners?

    Interesting to ponder…

    (Sorry to rosterbate all over the page like that… Just anxious for fun news about SOMETHING to happen…)

  39. Mariners35 on December 5th, 2012 2:44 pm

    “Nothing to overreact about?” Ha. Just wait until Bay and Ibanez are your 2013 Mariner left field platoon.

  40. californiamariner on December 5th, 2012 2:44 pm

    Curious about the Dee Gordon rumors like everyone else, but I’ve also seen “Mariners rumored to be interested in ______” for about 100 hitters by now :P

  41. Jake on December 5th, 2012 2:46 pm

    The problem is an obvious one: Baltimore couldn’t trade Asdrubal Cabrera..he’s still Cleveland’s shortstop.

  42. msfanmike on December 5th, 2012 3:11 pm

    Dee Gordon stinks.

    Even as a passer-by to some other team, there would likely be a trail of bad throws, bad swings and bad decisions left behind. I would imagine the Dodgers cannot get rid of him quickly enough.

  43. Swungonandbelted on December 5th, 2012 3:32 pm

    The rational side of me sees Bay as a relativley cheap flier on somebody who might find his bat

    The irrational side of me sees other teams making deals to improve their clubs and the M’s once again standing by with their thumbs up their collective butts (which will lead to the desperation signining of some 3rd rate hack to way too much money and way too many years because HowChuck has deemed it so…Hell, I hear Ichiro is still out there trying to find a team…)

  44. terryoftacoma on December 5th, 2012 3:42 pm

    It’s not easy to sign FA’s to play in Seattle. We even have to overpay to get Bay..

  45. Typical Idiot Fan on December 5th, 2012 4:09 pm

    It’s not easy to sign FA’s to play in Seattle. We even have to overpay to get Bay.

    Naw, don’t find out the details on the contract before you make a negative statement. That would ruin the fun of being irrational.

    Just jacking your sack. It wont be an overpay. The ML minimum is somewhere close to $500k. If the signs for $200k more (as Divish believes) you don’t have to lose sleep, wring your hands, or burn your memorabilia over it.

  46. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2012 4:19 pm

    You got me. Obviously I meant Cleveland. For no explainable reason I always interchange them. Indians? Orioles? Tomatos, Tomatoes… It’s not easy pretending to work at a job while trying to keep up with this stuff… They’re interested in Dee Gordon because they may be willing to trade Cabrera.

    (Maybe it’s the similar colors?)

    (Tail between my legs)

  47. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2012 4:34 pm

    In my idiot defense, here’s the story that spurred my thoughts…

  48. Mid80sRighty on December 5th, 2012 5:25 pm

    Apologies if this has already been answered. But, who comes off the 40 man with this signing?

  49. wilchiro on December 5th, 2012 5:27 pm

    I want this team to pursue Corey Hart. He could be had at a discount since he has just a year remaining on his deal. This guy has posted a wRC+ of 101 or higher in six of seven major league seasons. He’s a below average defender, but he can play both first base and right field, two positions of need.

    Jack knows this guy and his skillset as well as anyone and I wouldn’t mind if he offered the Brewers Paxton or Mauer as a centerpiece in a deal.

  50. Gritty Veteran Poster on December 5th, 2012 5:30 pm

    I’m sure there’s more moves to come but it’s getting harder and harder to get excited about this team.

  51. BillyJive on December 5th, 2012 5:40 pm

    I agree. This is a joke. Z says he doesn’t want to make a splash for the sake of just making a splash. Well, that’s pretty much what it’s going to take to get many people excited about Mariners baseball again. I’m tired of hoping the youngsters figure out or that we luck out on someone from the scrap heap…Jason Friggin Bay???
    Anything less than a big free agent signing tomorrow is a complete failure for these meetings. Mariners ownership needs to pull their collective heads out of their asses and do something to at least show us they want to win sometime soon. Their plan so far if they really have one hasn’t been working and I’m getting tired of it.

  52. ThanatosK on December 5th, 2012 6:20 pm

    Bah, I understand the frustration and the emotions but really, if they do nothing for 5 weeks and then sign all the good guys to great deals in January….we’ll all be excited and we’ll watch em, and we’ll go to games if they win, etc.

    It’s just hard to wait till January, give it to us now!! Ha ha

  53. BillyJive on December 5th, 2012 6:35 pm

    Why wait until January and take a chance that any of the decent free agents are going to be available? If they lay the groundwork now and it gets done then fine, and Jack seems to be very busy at these meetings….but at this point I’m not holding my breath. We’ll get the same old song and dance about contracts being too big and contracts being too large ect ect..I’m just tired of it.

  54. ThanatosK on December 5th, 2012 6:57 pm

    Well yeah, we’d all prefer that it get done now. The key is that there are likely other reasons that we don’t know for why it’s not getting done now. I mean clearly, if Z could get Swisher, Hamilton, etc all done on good deals at close to the terms we want….he’d have done it. So, when we don’t sign Swisher/Hamilton/[fill in the blank] yet and end up getting him in January for less years, better price, etc, it will have been worth it. Basically, the offseason isn’t a flop or failure just because we don’t finish it at the winter meetings.

    Now, that being said, if we sign a bunch of bargain basement, Large Item Pick up Day, type of guys and we go into April with no Swisher/Hamilton/Upton/Myers/Etc, then yes, it will have been a giant failure and they will have finally alienated a large portion of the fan base (including me who went to zero games last year for the first time in a decade). So…we don’t need you to fix our team tomorrow Z….but you better fix the damn thing before April.

  55. Choo on December 5th, 2012 9:06 pm

    Ben Gibbard says:

    Yay, yay, yay, yay, Jason Bay!
    Ground into another double-play!
    Whad’ya say, his third today!
    Wedge says on Memorial Day,
    “Jason Bay, report to triple-A!”

  56. Kazinski on December 5th, 2012 11:13 pm

    The only projection fangraphs has up for Bay is Bill James: .247/.343/.413 in 536ABs. That seems wildly optimistic but even if its a best case then is seems like its worth 700,000 to find out in Spring training.

    The first theory I had was that signing Bay was to bring someone to show Geoff Baker up close just how bad a free agent signing for a no-glove all bat player can get. If the Mariners signed Bay as I recall Baker pushing for that would have been our 66m catastrophe. Instead our big free agent signing in 2010 was Chone Figgins for 30m cheaper, if that makes anybody feel better.

  57. Mid80sRighty on December 6th, 2012 6:19 am

    A .756 OPS would have been second on the team last year. Well, unless you count Felix and his 175 wRC+. Put Felix in the outfield!

  58. eponymous coward on December 6th, 2012 6:41 am

    Bill James is regularly wildly optimistic on player projections. I’d pretty much ignore that in favor of something like ZIPS (which when it shows up, given that Bay’s been bad for three years, is probably going to say Bay is full of suck).


    The Mariners continue to be tied to Nick Swisher, a free-agent right fielder and first baseman, along with center fielder Michael Bourn. But with free-agent prices climbing and teams demanding a premium in young players via trade, Zduriencik raised the idea he might not land a premium bat this winter.

    “At the end, if you can’t get the offensive piece that you would like to have, or it doesn’t fit, or the cost is too high, then you still try to do things to make the club better,” Zduriencik said.

    One of those things might be to acquire more pitching, either for a young rotation or an even younger bullpen. The Mariners are also looking at several lower-cost bat options in addition to Bay, since they still would like to add a catcher and a first baseman.

    If we’re in March and the team’s adds are a couple of Jason Bay/Jack Cust “no, really, SURE, we have enough fairy dust for them to bounce back!” signings, plus some Kevin Millwood/George Sherrill type signings to fill out the rotation and bullpen, I think this will be appropriate music.

  59. eponymous coward on December 6th, 2012 7:01 am

    The reason why this bit in Baker’s piece is important:

    But with free-agent prices climbing

    Fun fact: if you take the highest 2013 dollar amount contract out of the Seattle Mariners (Felix) and out of Oakland (Cespedes), the M’s have LESS committed, on the books payroll (this is prior to both teams resigning their arbitration cases and filling out the roster):

    (~47 million, 19.5 for Felix, 28 million for everyone else)

    (~40 million, 8.5 for Cespedes, 32 million for everyone else)

    If the Mariners GM is already starting to say “well, this FA market is too rich for my blood” when the team is maybe looking at being at 70 million when everything is said and done with the roster as it exists today… payroll isn’t going up from the ~$85 million at the beginning of last year. You could probably add those Bay/Cust/Sherrill/Millwood players and have it go down.

    Then again, it could all be public posturing, and tomorrow we could have the Cliff Lee trade show up along with Josh Hamilton.

  60. MrZDevotee on December 6th, 2012 8:43 am

    I’m not too worried, because it seems like the Winter Meetings are hinging on Hamilton (and Greinke). And that may not get done this week.

    Bourne won’t sign before January (per Boras’ instructions) and Swisher really has limited options at this point (Seattle and Baltimore, evidently).

    I think if ANYTHING happens today, it’ll be something we didn’t expect, or know was happening. But more likely, deals will get done AFTER the meetings are over.

  61. TumwaterMike on December 6th, 2012 10:49 am

    I don’t think of Bay as any kind of risk. He didn’t perform in New York. Maybe once out of there he’ll do better. I hope he makes the team because my feeling is that we could have a whole new outfield of Bourne in Center, Swisher in Right and Bay in Left. Methinks, Saunders and Gutierrez go away in a trade for some pitching depth.

  62. eponymous coward on December 6th, 2012 11:00 am

    I don’t think of Bay as any kind of risk. He didn’t perform in New York. Maybe once out of there he’ll do better.

    It didn’t work with Guillen, Bradley, Cust, Wilkerson… actually, a pretty long list of failed veteran rehab projects.

    Doing the same thing over and over again (which is to say, using Large Item Pickup Day to grab some other team’s crappy horrible veteran that they think is useless), and expecting different results… what do they call that again?

  63. TumwaterMike on December 6th, 2012 11:41 am

    what do they call that again?

    Insanity…my point is lets play it out and see what happens. The cost is low, especially if we can get a really big bat or two.

  64. TumwaterMike on December 6th, 2012 11:43 am

    It didn’t work with Guillen, Bradley, Cust, Wilkerson…

    You forgot Eric Byrnes. The whole Bay thing is a gamble worth taking.

  65. eponymous coward on December 6th, 2012 12:44 pm

    The whole Bay thing is a gamble worth taking.

    It’s mostly irrelevant, with a non-zero chance of working out poorly (the M’s waste a month or two with a bad player being a black hole for a hundred or two PAs, like they have the last few years with Figgins, Bradley and so on).

    The cost is low, especially if we can get a really big bat or two.

    Your expectations are unrealistic. If there was a reasonable chance he would bounce back in 2013, the Mets wouldn’t have dumped him, just like how we wouldn’t have dumped Figgins if we thought he might be useful (it’s not like this team is all that flush with infielders, or the Mets couldn’t use a decent-hitting OFer). Changing where a player plays does not change his age, decline in skill sets, and so on. If coming to Safeco was magic fairy dust we should be signing Barry Bonds.

    I think a guy like Bay (who has been essentially useless for the team he’s played for for 3 years) is considerably different than someone like, say, Travis Hafner (who just can’t stay healthy, like Bay, but who actually hits worth a damn when he IS healthy, unlike Bay).

    My problem with these kinds of signings is it’s mostly wasting time on an irrelevancy. Dumpster diving for other teams’ rejects mostly is. I am sick and tired of Jack’s pickup coming back with junk from Large Item Pickup Day, even if it doesn’t have to stay for very long.

    The other problem is that spring training stats (“oh, he hit 4 jacks during spring training, he’ll be OK”) are mostly useless for evaluating players- so let’s say it’s March 30, Bay’s hitting .270 with 4 homers, Wells is hitting .230 with 1 homer. Which player do you keep? Which player do you think Wedge will keep?

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