The long municipal nightmare is over.
After teasing a big Mets announcement since early in his Monday show, Mike Francesa dropped the bomb Mets fans have been waiting for on WFAN Tuesday morning: Jason Bay, pending a physical, will be announced as the newest member of the team early next week.
The report has been seconded by Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated, and Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog is reporting that the deal will be for four years and in the neighborhood of $66 million. Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds that there is an "easy" vesting option for a firth year. Cerrone also reports that the deal is significantly backloaded, with Bay making as much as $19 million in the last year of the deal, which comes as a bit of a surprise because Bay could have made more money in the short-term if he'd accepted the initial offer made by the Red Sox in November.
Backloading makes the deal more paletteable for the Mets, though, since it presumably leaves some money available to add other pieces to round out the 2010 roster. Sure, it will make Bay's contract an awful one when it comes to 2013 and 2014, but it would probably look just as bad if he were making the $16.5 million or so average annual value. Bay's a slow power hitter who isn't very good defensively right now, one shudders to think of his mobility four years from now, but he's being brought to town to help to the underpowered Mets offense right now and he should do that.
It will be interesting to see how much money Matt Holliday winds up getting from, we presume, the Cardinals. If he winds up with a five-year deal for a similar annual value, it will be hard to feel quite so good about the Bay deal if Sherman's report about the fifth year is accurate. Holliday is a year younger, a better overall hitter and a better defensive player, playoff ball to the groin aside, but, as Minaya said last week, the Mets went with the easier option.
It's not the wrong choice, especially if the Mets make a few other moves before the hot stove gets turned off. Francesa also reported that one such target, catcher Bengie Molina, is trying to get the Mets to add a third year to their offer. Sane human beings everywhere hope that the Mets won't be foolish enough to offer him that year, especially now that the Mets have finally gotten their offseason underway.