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The story behind Jason Bay's aborted deal with the Red Sox

Jan 22, 2010, 8:28 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Jason Bay headshot.jpg“I was shocked to say the least that I was being told to have knee
surgery in order to get the contract, particularly since I
wasn’t hurt.”

– Jason Bay

That quote comes from an interesting story from WEEI’s Rob Bradford, telling us what went down between Jason Bay and the Red Sox last summer.  The upshot: after tentatively agreeing to a four-year, $60 million deal, Bay’s physical gave the Red Sox serious concerns, so they changed the offer: two years guaranteed, two vesting years based on Bay’s health, and mandatory knee surgery as soon as the 2009 season ended. Bay got a second opinion on the knee, was told there was no reason for concern.

Then, despite the fact that he hadn’t shared his new opinion with the team yet, when negotiations reopened with the Sox after the season, the team had dropped the request for surgery. Instead, they substituted it with a proposed contract clause like John Lackey’s: four years, but the team has the ability to void the final year if he spends X amount of time on the DL due to pre-existing conditions specified by the team.  All of this despite the fact that, in the meantime, Bay had shared his own doctor’s opinion with the team and a third, independent opinion had been obtained also showing Bay to be healthy. Bay balked at the offer and now he’s a Met.

People have been highly critical of the Mets’ medical staff recently, and it’s likely that having Bay in New York will give us more opportunities for that. But this story may give us a chance to test the merits of the Sox’ staff as well. Were they overly cautious, and did that caution cost them their left fielder? And how about Theo Epstein?  What was with first insisting on the surgery demand and then retracting it despite the fact that, to the team anyway, nothing had changed?  A bit erratic, no?

Given its reputation and personnel, if there is a front office that is pushing the envelope with respect to how to limit injuries — and, more to the point, how to limit a team’s financial exposure to injuries — it’s the Red Sox. Jason Bay may well be an interesting test case to see if they have pushed the envelope just a bit too far.

  1. kirk - Jan 22, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    If the Mets medical staff reviewed his medical condition, I am sure that he is healthy. This has the possible makings of Mo Vaughn – Part Deux.

  2. Jonny5 - Jan 22, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    Maybe it’s as simple as the sox not needing a left fielder who wants Pitcher money even with a suspect knee???? Anyone think of that??? Seriously for a little extra money they could sign a big name pitcher………… With good knees…… Just saying…….

  3. BR5 - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    Bay will be missed in Boston but I think both sides could have acted better.

  4. Jakeman - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    Knowning the Mets situation, their doctors probably took a Polaroid of Bay’s knee and sent it to Omar as evidence he was healthy.

  5. sox15 - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    I agree BR5 that Bay will be missed in Boston. However, from what this states, how could both sides have acted better? It seems that Bay did all that was asked of him and in the end it still wasn’t enough. It seems like the Sox jacked him around pretty good. And if they didn’t want him as their left fielder, why didn’t they just say that? Instead they made him see an mutually agreed upon independent doctor, giving him the impression they still wanted him. I know this is a business, but people (especially people like Bay who are stand up guys and are doing what is asked of them) don’t need to be treated that way.

  6. bob - Jan 22, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    I think the Sox blew it. Jason is a good guy and they tried to manhandle him on the contract. I think he has handled it particularly well.
    Bob Gammons/Sox Front office has not

  7. BC - Jan 22, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    I’d bet my condo on Jason Bay blowing his knee out by the All Star Break. The Mets medical staff is almost as inept as their GM. And by the way who the —- is playing first base? Maybe we can get Keith Hernandez out of retirement? Another 72 win season on the way for my guys.

  8. moreflagsmorefun - Jan 22, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    Yeah, Los Mets signed Latino Jason Bay to 60 Million because he has bad knees. What a bunch of miserable fans, how could you dog your team like that, it’s dispicable. Put bags on your head to hide your shameful self.Unbelievable, no wonder they hate to play at home, there is no support.This guy is a stand up guy with a good attitude to add to their locker room, many people have this view of Bay and this is why the Mets signed him. Get lost Mets Fan, you suck.

  9. blains2000 - Jan 22, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    For you Mets bashers out there how will this be an indictment of the Mets’ doctors if Bay does in fact blow out his knee? Bay’s own doctor as well as an independent doctor both agreed that he is healthy. Will you post diatribes against those two doctors as well?

  10. BTfromVT - Jan 22, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    “And if they didn’t want him as their left fielder, why didn’t they just say that?”
    Because free agency is like a game of poker, you never want to tip your hand and show your real game plan

  11. james - Jan 22, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    So not only did bays doctor say it was all good, so did a mutually agreed upon doctor but so did the insurance company that inures contracts for teams. Yes he did have knee arthroscopic knee surgery in 2006 but it was a 10 minute procedure and he was able to walk out of the hospital after the procedure.
    I think that the medical contingencies were the tip of the iceberg. First they wanted the contract to force him to have surgery which they later changed their mind and which calls into question the true stance of the medical staff of the red sox. Then they wanted him to pay a portion of the insurance premiums, which is kind of weird because the insurance plan is meant to protect the team and not the player.
    The Red Sox yanked this guy around in hopes of getting concessions which I guess could be a good move if it works out but this is a league where players talk and this may hurt the appeal of the Red Sox for other veteran players. Maybe not but it’s something to think about. I wonder if Bay could file a grievance like the one filed by Yorvit Torrealba againts the mets. I know it didn’t lose him money per- say but it could affect him in the future.
    The league needs independent medical staff to keep an eye on team doctors from acting for the benefit of franchise instead of the general welfare of the player. Being a team doctor is big business. in fact there are reports that one doctor paid the team for the right to be the team doctor.
    PS I am a mets fan who thinks the mets medical staff has really messed up lately but I think that 3 other medical inquiries plus the mets makes me feel more comfortable.

  12. Hermila Vanhee - Jan 24, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    Hi buddy, your blog’s design is simple and clean and i like it. Your blog posts are superb. Please keep them coming. Greets!!!

  13. Loan - Feb 21, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    You have the capacity to learn from your mistakes. You will learn a lot today.

  14. James (Jim) Andrew Calculator - Mar 4, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    Why was Phillip’s girlfriend annoyed?

  15. P. Christopher Calculator - Mar 4, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    If you can’t change your mind, are you sure you still have one?

  16. Emily Bridge - Mar 5, 2010 at 6:39 AM

    Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.

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