Just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse for Jason Bay in New York, he’s gone 0-for-20 without an RBI in six games this month. Hitless in 23 at-bats overall, he’s now down to .207/.307/.279 in 140 at-bats for the season.
Because Bay missed the first three weeks of the season with a strained oblique, he’s a little shy of qualifying for the batting title at the moment. However, if he did, he’d rank 164th of 171 players in average and 167th in slugging ahead of only Alcides Escobar, Chone Figgins, Miguel Tejada and Daric Barton.
The slump now likely qualifies as the worst of his career. He had a lousy second half of 2007 for the Pirates and finished that year at .247/.327/.418. Still, he hit 21 homers. In 2009, he had a terrible month and a half with the Red Sox, hitting .185 with three homers in a span of 124 at-bats. But this one has outlasted that one.
The Mets would appear to have little choice other than to stick with him and hope for the best. Bay is owed another $35 million after this year and has a full no-trade clause. With the suspicion being that he’s never truly recovered from last season’s concussion, it’s hard to imagine any team taking on a substantial portion of that salary.
There’s also no obvious bad contract to try and pair him with. Maybe Figgins in Seattle, but Figgins is guaranteed a relatively paltry $17 million after this year. A healthy Bay would look like a great fit as a right-handed hitter to stick in between Joey Votto and Jay Bruce in Cincinnati, but it’s hard to imagine the Reds having interest with things as is.
The Mets will either have to keep playing Bay or make up an injury for him so that they can send him on a rehab assignment for a week or two. Tonight, though, it’s Jason Pridie in left field and Bay on the bench.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.