Jason Bay press conference highlights

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The Mets unveiled their newest bauble a couple of hours ago. After giving him a New York Rangers jersey with his name on it — seriously — Bay faced the press. The whole thing is here if you want to read it. Here are the highlights:

  • Asked about leaving the Sox, Bay said that he was open to the idea of returning to Boston at season’s end but that “what it boiled down to, I just think the Mets wanted me more”;
  • Bay said that the Mets were on his “short list.” Why? “The chance to win.”  I’m going to assume that was a covert tip to the media that Omar Minaya is going to be fired soon, because otherwise the statement simply wouldn’t make any sense;
  • Is he worried about the big Citi Field outfield? “For those of you who don’t know, and I’m sure most of you do,
    Pittsburgh is very spacious as well, and you play half your games on
    the road . . . I’m by no means Torii Hunter out there. I know that. But I still think I’m pretty good.”
  • Someone asked him if replacing Manny Ramirez in Boston will help “with what he’ll see in New York.” Bay was diplomatic. I wish, however, that he had said “yeah, because replacing Gary Sheffield’s rotting corpse and the misfit toys Jerry ran out there last year will be REALLY tough. Jeez!”
  • Bay said that between the first offer at the Winter Meetings and the time the deal was basically done was “a week or 10 days or something.”  I suppose everyone’s definition of a done deal differs a bit, but assuming things were essentially in place in the time frame Bay says they were, we all should apologize for our “this is taking forever; Bay doesn’t want to come to New York” snark.
  • He was asked what other teams were in the running for his services: “We can leave the second part of that question out. I don’t think we need to get into where I ultimately could have been.” Clearly the Mystery Team has Bay’s family held hostage and will only release them once the heat dies down. The Mystery Team doesn’t mess around. Mess you up, man.
  • What about that Gammons quote about how he would rather play in Beirut than Queens?  “I kind of heard about that around the way.”  “Around the way?” What, is Bay an extra on “The Wire?”  He goes on: “People have opinions — that’s fine. To say those were my opinions and that’s the way I felt, that hurts a little bit.”  Peter Groton Gammons! You’ve hurt Jason’s feelings! Now I want you to apologize this instant young man!
  • Asked about the state of his shoulder, which some feared would cause problems in his physical: “I actually never hurt my shoulder.”  Um, OK.  You know, I hate to continue to throw out conspiracy theories here, but the guy who was beating the Bay’s-physical-is-gonna-be-rough drum the hardest was Heyman. You don’t suppose that someone was whispering things to him about Bay’s shoulder in order to keep the Mets theoretically in play for a bit so some other high profile left field free agent could use them as a stalking horse, do you?  Nah, that would be crazy talk.

Anyway, Bay’s a Met now. Now on to the Bengie Molina sweepstakes.

The Nationals sign Kevin Jepsen

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Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports the Nationals have agreed to terms with free agent reliever Kevin Jepsen.

Think of this as the latest in what will likely be a series of no-risk bullpen additions. The Nats, basically, collecting as many almost free arms they can find in an effort to fix their bullpen woes without having to give up anything valuable at the trade deadline. Just like the K-Rod signing earlier this week or the Edwin Jackson signing two weeks ago.

Jepsen pitched for Tampa Bay and Minnesota last year, posting a 5.68 ERA with the Rays and a 6.16 ERA with the Twins, appearing in 58 games in all. He went unsigned this past offseason.

Eh, it might work. It probably won’t, but it might.

Rival Executives Expect Justin Verlander To Hit The Trading Block

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About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.

As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.

The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.

On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.

The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.

If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.