Is Mike Cameron better than Jason Bay?

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Cameron.standard[1].jpgWho would you take, Mike Cameron or Jason Bay?

It seems like a silly question on the surface. Bay is widely considered the No. 2 position player on the free agent market behind Matt Holliday, while Cameron is largely ignored even in Milwaukee, where he has played the last two seasons.

Over at Fangraphs.com, though, Dave Cameron makes a strong case that Mike Cameron (no relation, I hope, otherwise this whole thing is a sham!) is actually the better player despite his age (36, while Bay just turned 31). Cameron will also come cheaper, making him the better value.

So how can a guy who hits for a lower average and less power (they both strike out a ton) be the better player? The answer is defense, dummy.

Cameron covers center field like a gazelle, while Bay only looks decent in left field at Fenway because Manny Ramirez preceded him there. A run saved is just as good as a run driven in right?

If you think Cameron’s on the verge of collapse (he’s shown no signs of it) and you don’t trust defensive metrics (in this case, the conclusions are pretty obviously true), then you think that they’re similarly valuable. In reality, the odds are pretty good that Cameron is going to outperform Bay next season, just as he’s done in most every season recently, and he’s going to do it for far less money.

If you want a right-handed hitting outfielder this winter, and you don’t want to pony up for Matt Holliday, Jason Bay is not the alternative. Call Mike Cameron instead.

OK. You’ve got me convinced. Now where did I leave my checkbook?

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Magic Johnson to take over the Lakers, but will still be part of Dodgers ownership

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Earvin 'Magic' Johnson attends game one of the National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field on October 15, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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This is more significant for basketball fans than baseball fans, but Magic Johnson is taking over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dan Feldman over at PBT has the full story on that.

For our purposes, you probably know that Johnson is part of the Dodgers ownership group. Anthony McCullough of the L.A. Times got comment from the Dodgers, saying that despite his new full-time job, his status with the Dodgers will be unchanged:

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not entirely certain what Magic does with the Lakers, so the first clause in Kasten’s comment may be doing most of the heavy lifting here.

Matt Wieters is close to signing with the Washington Nationals

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 02: Matt Wieters #32 of the Baltimore Orioles connects on a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on October 2, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.

Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.

Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.