“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
— 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.