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Source: Five-Year Offer Could Close a Deal With Bay

12.10.09 at 5:46 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — While Scott Boras held court on Wednesday afternoon in the lobby of the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott to discuss the virtues of his clients (such as Matt Holliday and Adrian Beltre), Joe Urbon, the agent for Jason Bay, remained inconspicuous.

The market for Bay has been something of a mystery during the winter meetings. Aside from the reported four-year, $60 million offer made by the Sox to Bay during the season, there have been no other mentions of proposals for the All-Star left-fielder. That said, there remains interest in the player.

The Sox, for one, have reaffirmed their interest over the course of the Winter Meetings. The Angels appeared prepared to jump into the Bay sweepstakes, though on Wednesday, Halos skipper Mike Scioscia tossed water on the notion just when it was heating up.

“I think there are some more pressing needs we have right now than the talent that Jason could bring. He’€™s an extraordinary talent, but we definitely have to look for some balance in some areas, and that might not make Jason a great fit for our club,” said Scioscia. ‘€œYou try to be balanced and have as deep a club as you can. With some of the things we’€™re looking at, the opportunity to get deeper, we might not be able to make that one big splash with that one guy that Jason would be right now.’€

The Mets have also gotten involved in the conversations, and the Mariners — who have never confirmed or denied publicly an interest in Bay — continue to loom on the periphery. Other teams could lurk below the surface (Cardinals? Giants?), but for now, at least, those four clubs are considered the principles.

Through the meetings, there has been no evidence of formal offers for Bay. One official of a club that has checked in with Urbon believes that the outfielder has yet to receive an offer of more than four years. As such, the official believed that a club that proved willing to extend its offer to a fifth year would win the negotiations for the left fielder. Whether or not a team proves willing to extend that far for the 31-year-old remains to be seen.

For their part, the Sox — who met with Urbon on Monday, but had not met with him again as of Wednesday afternoon — are trying to avoid the temptation to proceed with a bidding strategy premised on what other teams’ interest may or may not be. Because misinformation can be rampant in settings such as the Winter Meetings, Boston GM Theo Epstein prefers to determine a value for a player and stick to that limit, rather than basing bids on information about who is and is not part of the market.

“For any free agent, there can be a significant market or less of a market, but I think it’€™s hard to read it through press comments,” said Epstein. “If you try to determine exactly what teams might be on a certain player, you can often err and be overconfident, or you can panic and overreact. It’€™s better just to focus on what makes sense for you. Obviously, there’€™s a little bit of a supply and demand dynamic that comes into play. But you just try to focus on signing the player at a cost that makes sense for the organization, regardless.”

Read More: Angels, jason bay, Mariners, Mets
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