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

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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.

The Mets are set to host the NL wild card game

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 01: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the sixth inning of a game at Citizens Bank Park on October 1, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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In the end, the Mets’ march into the playoffs played out just how they imagined: three innings of a Bartolo Colon perfecto, four combined innings of one-run ball from five different relievers, a James Loney home run. Well, maybe it looked a little different when they drew it up.

Colon guided the Mets through five innings for his 15th win of the year, striking out six and giving up a two-run homer in the fifth. Behind him, the Mets combined for five runs off of RBI base hits from T.J. Rivera and Jose Reyes, finding an edge with Loney’s go-ahead homer in the sixth and a bonus RBI single from Asdrubal Cabrera in the ninth inning. Despite a pair of well-placed home runs by Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf, the Phillies found themselves in scoring position just twice and were unable to close the two-run gap to tie the game.

The Mets’ 5-3 win over the Phillies clinched their spot in the postseason, sans tiebreaker. They also secured home-field advantage for Wednesday’s wild card game, during which they’ll face either the Cardinals or the Giants. On Friday, the wild card winner will advance to the Division Series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

As MLB.com’s Jeff Passan and Joe Trezza simultaneously pointed out, it will be an unconventional playoff run for the Mets, who approach October without Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Neil Walker, David Wright, Zack Wheeler, or Ben Zobrist. Now, if ever, seems like an appropriate time for some champagne.

Indians’ postseason rotation is still up in the air

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 16: Starting pitcher Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on September 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.

Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.

Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.

With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:

If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.