Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jason Bay For AJ Burnett...Why Not?

In the days following the end of the regular season, when those teams who weren't fortunate enough to reach the playoffs essentially remain stagnant, fans are left to propose a variety of fixes for their team.  In recent days, there have been a variety of trades and free agent signings discussed.  From Albert Pujols to Prince Fielder, most of these fixes have been as unrealistic as they come, however the same can't be said for the hypothetical Jason Bay for AJ Burnett trade.

There's no secret to the fact that Met fans are fed up with the Jason Bay experience.  Similarly, Yankee fans are growing tired to AJ Burnett's uninspired trips to the hill in the Bronx.  As such, it would make sense that both teams would be more than eager to move their bad contracts.  However, problems to such a theory in this instance aren't hard to find.

On the surface, exchanging the contracts of Bay and Burnett makes pretty good sense, at least mathematically.  Both are under contract through the 2013 season, with Bay due to make $33 million and Burnett due to make $32 million.  Furthermore, it would appear obvious that Bay would benefit from a move to Yankee Stadium (a hitter friendly ball park) and Burnett a move to Citi Field (a pitcher friendly ball park). 

The issue arises in the fact that pitchers will almost always trump position players.  Burnett, despite his 2011 struggles, remains a premiere talent with the capabilities of being dominant.  Bay on the other hand is in the process of what seems to be a steep decline.  While his power numbers might see a boost in a move to Yankee Stadium, a boost in his batting average (which has declined the past three seasons) is no guarantee.

The other issue involves Jason Bay's potential vesting option for the 2014 season.  With 500 plate appearances consecutively in both 2012 and 2013 or 600 plate appearances in 2013, Bay would be in line for a $17 million vesting option.  Despite having no more than 444 plate appearances in any season since joining the Mets, this vesting option is a risk that must be considered...and would likely be a major deterrent for Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees.

Where this potential swap really falls apart is the fact that the Yankees are in the business of acquiring players when their value is high.  Although they may need to bring in an outfielder, if they don't exercise their option on Nick Swisher, Jason Bay's value is nothing remotely close to high.  Despite having deep pockets, it remains unlikely that Cashman would be interested in the risk that is Bay's 2014 option.  Additionally, despite his troubles, if he can bounce back, AJ Burnett still possesses the potential to be a dominant starting pitcher.  As a result, such a trade appears to be too far in the Mets favor and ultimately has little chance of happening.

There are plenty of bad contracts out there.  Jason Bay isn't the only veteran signed for too much money, for too long a time period.  If Sandy Alderson truly wants to move his contract, I wouldn't say its impossible...but I thoroughly doubt it will be to the New York Yankees.