Monday, January 4, 2010
Updated: January 5, 1:28 PM ET
Bay set to join Mets after physical OK'd
By Jerry Crasnick
Free-agent outfielder Jason Bay has passed his physical exam and will be introduced as the newest New York Met on Tuesday at Citi Field, the team announced Monday.
Bay, 31, reached agreement with the Mets last week on a reported four-year, $66 million contract. The deal includes a vesting option that could increase Bay's overall payout to more than $80 million over five years.
Bay's physical exam had been portrayed as more than a formality by some media outlets because of his medical history. He underwent shoulder surgery in 2003 and arthroscopic knee surgery in 2006, and his former team, the Red Sox, reportedly had enough concerns about his long-term health to hold firm at a four-year contract offer rather than the five-year deal that Bay was seeking.
But the physical did not prove to be a significant obstacle, and Bay will be officially introduced as a Met at a news conference Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET.
Bay hit .267 with 36 homers and 119 RBIs last year in Boston. His .676 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position ranked second in baseball behind Albert Pujols' .697.
The Mets expect Bay to add thump to an offense that ranked last in the major leagues with 95 home runs in 2009. New York's lineup was decimated by injuries to center fielder Carlos Beltran, shortstop Jose Reyes and first baseman Carlos Delgado, and manager Jerry Manuel's team ranked 25th in the big leagues with 671 runs scored.
The Mets expect that Bay's ability to pull the ball will help him in pitcher-friendly Citi Field, which is spacious in the gaps but plays fairer to hitters down the lines.
At the beginning of the free-agent process, many observers thought that Bay was destined to return to Boston. But after the Red Sox spent $82.5 million on free-agent starter John Lackey and $15.5 million on outfielder Mike Cameron, it became clear that Bay's tenure in Boston had reached an end.
Bay broke into professional ball as a 22nd-round draft pick with the Montreal Expos in 2000. The Mets acquired him in a trade in March 2002, but sent him to San Diego four months later as part of a five-player deal with the Padres.
In his next stop, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bay made two All-Star teams and posted back-to-back, 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons in 2005 and 2006.
Since 2005, Bay is tied for fourth among big-league outfielders with 155 home runs and ranks fifth with 514 RBIs.
The Mets' signing of Bay leaves outfielder Matt Holliday as the prime free-agent hitter left on the market. The Cardinals are believed to be the frontrunners to sign Holliday, who came to St. Louis from Oakland in a July deadline trade.
Jerry Crasnick covers Major League Baseball for ESPN Insider.