Saturday Mailbag: Jason Bay For Carl Crawford?
Crawford is getting hammered by Red Sox nation. Bay had his best season there. What about a deal straight up (with cash coming back to the Mets).Crawford is 30 and has 6 years left on his deal. Bay is 33 with 3 years left (including vesting option). Fresh start for both players and huge off season buzz for both teams. – K. Muller
I think over the course of Bay’s contract, yes, it’s a good idea. Conventional wisdom says Crawford would probably have slotted second this season in the Mets batting order. The second spot in the order for the Mets this season was dreadful, hitting .245/.325/.320, and was the only position in the batting order to slug their way under their on base percentage. Yes folks, that includes the pitchers spot. And the top of the order will need even more help if Jose Reyes leaves for greener pastures (see what I did there? Money is gree…….forget it).
Crawford is a much better fielder than Bay is and brings a speed aspect to the Mets that no one but Reyes possesses. While both Bay and Crawford tanked completely, Crawford’s fold was for only one season, while Bay hasn’t hit since 2009. Crawford (at least as far as I’m concerned) is still protected under that “small market to big market move” one-year grace period, much like Bay was at the end of last season and Carlos Beltran was after 2005. And just to get picky and over-simplify, power is what the Mets lack the most offensively, and Crawford had a higher SLG% than Bay this season. The home park is a non-factor in this case, as Bay hit exactly six home runs each home and away and actually slugged 114 points higher at Citi Field this season.
That’s a lot to like about a swap, but the contract situations are vastly different, and that’s where I have to think twice. Ok, K Muller. let’s assume the Sox give some money to the Mets. How much? That’s really the most important part of the equation. If the Red Sox were to give the Mets $4 million to offset the next three seasons, then I’d buy into it for three years. Three years are committed anyway for the cost, may as well have the better player. But it’s not just a three-year commitment, is it?
Crawford would still be owed in the neighborhood of $60 million for the next three seasons, and that’s a tremendous risk. Would the Red Sox offset some of THAT cost? Maybe. The Texas Rangers were still paying almost 40% of A-Rod’s salary long after Alfonso Soriano was telling Frank Robinson how to manage his ball club. Would the Red Sox still pay $6-$8 million per year for Crawford even after Bay’s contract expired? If they would, maybe it would make sense for the Mets to pay $12-$14 million in that case. The part of the question “with cash coming back to the Mets“ is too vague for a concrete yes or no, because paying many millions for a speedster in his age 34-36 season is a very slippery slope.
I considered two more things that bear thinking about. Bay’s option is no longer a guarantee after two terrible seasons. The union would have a very weak case if Bay began platooning and they filed a grievance. The Mets may only have two more seasons of Bay, not three. The other thing is that I’m not very confident the Red Sox will shop Crawford. It’s only the first year, and he’s still in his prime (the back end of it, but prime nonetheless). I seriously doubt they’d dangle Crawford in a headache-for-headache swap this early into his contract, nor do I think they’d want to pay very much to do so.
The swap looks very nice on paper for the Mets, but there’s more than the players involved. There’s contract length, money and the willingness of the Red Sox to participate. My Magic 8-Ball says “too soon to tell.”
About the Author: Jesse Elgarten
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