If the Chicago Cubs are successful in their efforts to move Milton Bradley, it will leave a hole in right field that could be filled internally – by sliding Kosuke Fukudome back over to right field, and allowing Sam Fuld and Reed Johnson (if re-signed) to split time in center field. But the hole does not necessarily have to be filled internally. In fact, Cubs manager Lou Piniella has repeatedly said that he wants to add a big, middle of the order run producer – you know, the kind of bat Milton Bradley was supposed to provide.
He’s even generously said that, this time, the guy doesn’t even have to be a left-handed hitter. So how about Jason Bay?
Multiple industry sources expect that bidding for Bay – who is making $7.5 million this year – will reach at least four years at $14-15 million per year this offseason should the outfielder seek to maximize his worth on the open market. Indeed, some have suggested that he could exceed those estimates, both in years and dollars. Certainly, it could help the slugger’s cause that the number of interested teams is expected to be significant.
The Red Sox have already said, at the time that they tabled negotiations just after the All-Star break, that they expect to discuss an extension with Bay following the season, and so a return seems a legitimate possibility, especially given Bay’s often-stated enthusiasm for playing in Boston and his desire to return. Full Count.
If Bay commands that kind of money, it is hard to imagine the Cubs finding room for him, short of an increase in payroll for next season. To date, we have no indication either way of what new owner Tom Ricketts’s intentions are in that regard.
Bay just turned 31, and is coming off back-to-back great seasons. He sports a career .896 OPS, and averages 33 homers and 107 RBI per season.
One rub: Bay has played exactly one game in right field. That has been a personnel issue, however, as Bay certainly has the arm and athleticism to play right field if necessary.