After proving he can hit against American League pitching, Jason Bay is all set to get paid after a solid fantasy season.
Bay hit .267/.384/.537 with a career high 36 homers and 119 RBI. He also chipped in 100 runs and even provided owners with 13 steals in his first full season with Boston. Many of his fantasy owners may not have been happy with the drop in batting average, at the expense of five extra home runs. I don’t think they minded too much, but when you are counting on a guy to hit .280, you’d always like him to do so.
Because he’s turned in two good offensive seasons in a row, he will be seeking a nice payday before he steps back on the field in 2010. The Red Sox have been rumored to be willing to go as high as $15 million a year, but R.J. Anderson already analyzed why their history does not support that rumor. The Mets, Cardinals, Angels, Giants, Braves and possibly the Yankees will be in the market for a big time left fielder.
The Mets are going to make the strongest push towards Matt Holliday, as will the Cardinals and Bay’s former employers in Boston. The Giants may not be willing to spend the big bucks, but could make Bay feel wanted if they focus on him from the start. The Yankees aren’t likely to go big again this offseason, but Bay’s value could slip into the range where they almost have to get involved.
Where Bay ends up this offseason will be huge for his value. If he stays with a great team like the Red Sox who will surround him with talent, his RBI and run production should remain at a steady rate. If he decides to follow the money to a team that may be of a lesser quality (Giants, Mets), he may feel forced to do things all by his lonesome and his game could suffer because of it.
In Boston, I doubt any of his old mates will be complaining if he leaves. If he goes out of town, chances are Boston will fill his spot with another big bat. The Red Sox lineup always seems to produce, so their players have nothing to worry about. His new teammates will enjoy his presence in their lineup, and he will boost their runs and RBI.
Bay may not be the best overall player in the league, but he is a big bat for fantasy owners, especially in OBP leagues. No matter where he goes, he will hit home runs and drive in runs, but a return to Fenway would be best for his fantasy value.