Essentially bringing closure to a subject already considered by many to be a moot point; Jason Bay has reached a four-year pact with the New York Mets, officially ending any chance that he may return as the Red Sox's left-fielder. The deal, reportedly worth $66 million, is just a slight upgrade from the offer made by Boston earlier this off season.
While recent rumors suggested that the Red Sox may have been in the process of considering an expansion of their available budget in relation to this off season, obviously Bay's agreement with the Mets ends any potential to that situation.
Is Jason Bay's departure truly that devastating to the Red Sox; or is his appeal more or less a product of having so few other options this off season?
How intelligent was it for Boston to go out and acquire John Lackey, Mike Cameron, and Marco Scutaro via free-agency -- essentially pricing themselves out of the running for Bay -- considering their still apparent need for a power-hitter?
Some fans may choose to focus on the departure of Jason Bay -- rather than the additions made in other areas -- when grading management's progress this off season. However, if you step back and look at the complete roster in comparison to that of last year's team, it's difficult to anticipate the loss of Bay as 'devastating.'
Defensive Upgrade - Mike Cameron
Mike Cameron was added at a fraction of the cost that Bay would have commanded. While Bay is certainly a better offensive option, Cameron can be considered a better overall value for many reasons. For instance, since 2002 Mike Cameron has been worth +29.6 wins (using WAR), which is about the same as the likes of David Ortiz and Aramis Ramirez. Cameron has posted a WAR of +4 or higher in three of the last four seasons when compared to Bay, and has a significantly higher UZR/150 rating over the same period of time. It is not a stretch to assume that Cameron's defensive upgrade from Bay should more than make up for the decrease in offensive numbers that he represents. All of the aforementioned comparisons become that much more relevant when the two players' contracts are brought into the discussion.
Spending Wisely - John Lackey
It's no secret that Josh Beckett may be in his final season as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Signing Lackey, a similar pitcher to Beckett in many regards, is a wise way to guarantee that Boston still features a potent 1-2 punch at the front end of their rotation for years to come (in the event that Beckett is not resigned). This gives Boston much more room for error when negotiations with Beckett and his representatives inevitably begin this season. Not only did Boston assure themselves one of the best rotations in baseball entering 2010, but they did so in a financially responsible way by still adding Cameron as a viable replacement for Bay. Why not solidify the starting rotation for years to come if you can replace Bay with an equally effective Cameron?
Cameron/Lackey/Scutaro > Bay
As stated above, Mike Cameron's defense helps alleviate some of the offensive downgrade that losing Bay represents. Couple that with Lackey's impact on the rotation and Scutaro's impact on the lineup -- it's safe to say that the current projected lineup is a significant upgrade from last year's club in general. Cameron's defensive upgrade from Bay and Scutaro's offensive upgrade from last year's shortstop merry-go-round gives Boston a better look overall.
There's no doubt that Jason Bay was a great player during his short-lived tenure in Boston, but all of the factors listed above were more than likely heavily considered when the Red Sox decided that Bay was just slightly out of their budget limitations. It's foolish to think that Boston couldn't come up with the extra money to land Bay if they truly felt it necessary.
Given the newly-cemented situation in Boston's outfield; how do you, the fans, feel regarding Bay's departure now?