There’s little doubt outfielder Jason Bay will suit up for Canada at next year’s World Baseball Classic.
What isn’t known is whether he’ll be a member of the New York Mets at that time or with another major league club.
A source has told the New York Post there is “zero” chance the Mets will swallow the $19 million US owed the Trail, B.C., native ($16 million salary plus $3 million buyout) and release Bay this off-season.
The former all-star with the Pittsburgh Pirates hit 36 home runs for Boston three years ago and drove in a career-high 119 runs that season, and Bay’s heart tells him he’s still that player, despite the fact he entered play Tuesday with a .155 batting average in 67 games (187 at-bats) this season.
“Nobody wants to not have a job,” Bay, who hasn’t played since homering against Miami on Saturday, told the Post newspaper. “I’m hoping I can turn this thing around. I have been hoping that for a while.
“It’s very hard to fail, but it happens every day. … This is something you have to grind through, and I take it very seriously.”
Mets brass has already resolved to stick with Bay, who’s in the third season of a four-year contract worth $66 million he signed with New York in December 2009.
So, what has contributed to Bay’s dramatic decline in performance?
Mets manager Terry Collins suggested recently a pair of concussions Bay has sustained in three seasons with the club have been a factor. That isn’t washing with the player, though.
“Maybe 20 years from now they will find some link,” Bay said, “but … there is no palpable evidence that says due to the concussions ‘A, B or C’ has happened.”
If Bay had reached 500 plate appearances in 2012 (he was at 208 through Tuesday) a vesting option worth $17 million would have kicked in for 2014. The option will also vest if he attains 600 plate appearances next season.
“I’m not playing this game to try and get at-bats to get options to kick in,” Bay, who topped 30 homers between 2005 and 2008 for Pittsburgh, told the Post. “I want to get back to being productive. … I’m working every day trying to find something that is going to put me in a position to succeed.”
Bay has homered 21 times in three seasons with New York, or 15 fewer times than his final season in Boston.
“I feel like somewhere along the way I lost rhythm,” he said.
Bay’s Canadian audience only hopes he gets it back in time to pursue a 2013 World Baseball Classic title.