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. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!”

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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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