Red Sox not giving up on having Bay return
Boston could turn attention to Holliday if deal can't get done
INDIANAPOLIS -- Though they haven't given up on their pursuit of left fielder Jason Bay, the Red Sox also don't appear to be close to an agreement with the free agent as the Winter Meetings head to the home stretch.
Any update on the negotiations?
"No," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "Nothing. Those guys are off doing their thing."
In other words, talking to other teams?
"I assume," said Epstein.
While agent Scott Boras, who represents Matt Holliday, the other top free-agent outfielder on the market, held a lengthy session with reporters on Wednesday, Bay's lead representative -- Joe Urbon -- has kept a decidedly low profile in Indianapolis.
The market for Bay has been a well-kept secret to this point. When the Meetings started on Monday, there were rumblings that the Angels had strong interest in Bay.
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia has all but thrown a wet blanket on such speculation the past couple of days, saying he hasn't done any active recruiting of Bay.
"I have not reached out personally to him, but he has been in internal discussions that we've had as an organization," Scioscia said. "I think there are some more pressing needs that we have right now than what -- than the talent that Jason can bring. He's an extraordinary talent, but we definitely have to look for some balance in some areas, and that might not make Jason a great fit for our club."
What are the areas Scioscia was referring to?
"We have more pressing needs," Scioscia said. "Obviously you try to be balanced and have as deep a club as you can, and with some of the things that we're looking at, we have an opportunity to get deeper. We might not be able to make that one big splash with that one guy that Jason is right now."
Epstein won't rule out the Angels as a competitor for Bay based on Scioscia's comments.
"For any free agent, there can be a significant market or less of a market, but I think it's hard to read it through press comments," said Epstein. "If you try to determine exactly what teams might be on a certain player, you can often err and be overconfident, or you can panic and overreact. It's better just to focus on what makes sense for you. Obviously, there's a little bit of a supply-and-demand dynamic that comes into play. But you just try to focus on signing the player at a cost that makes sense for the organization, regardless."
How about the Mariners? Bay has a home in the Seattle area, which would make them a good fit. The Mariners have already made a big move this winter, acquiring Chone Figgins. They could create a serious buzz by bringing Bay to the Pacific Northwest, and the club has been keeping quiet with regards to its interest in Bay.
No other suitors have publicly emerged.
If the Red Sox can't retain Bay, they could intensify their interest in Holliday. Will they exhaust all negotiations with Bay before going all in for Holliday?
"You'd have to ask the Red Sox that. I don't know," said Boras. "We're talking with a lot of teams about Matt. I don't ask and they don't tell me."
But Boras is willing to talk all day about the virtues of Holliday.
"Matt is a very athletic player. He's a complete player," Boras said. "Certainly Jason Bay is a fine hitter, but Matt Holliday is a different type of hitter. He's more of a line drive [hitter]. He's really a great baserunner, really athletic. Having that type of power with a line-drive swing allows you to play in a bigger ballpark and still produce your 100 RBIs and produce 100 runs scored. He is, to me, more capable of delivering the production in a wider variety of ballparks."
When Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees last winter, there appeared to be some bad blood between the Red Sox and Boras. Both sides are likely over that by now.
"We've always worked together," Boras said. "We continue to work together. We've got a lot of deals done with J.D. [Drew] and [Jason] Varitek and other players over time. We continue to communicate, work and go through the process as professionals."
Epstein continues to keep all options open in left field, whether it is signing an impact free agent or sizing up a platoon.
"When it's all said and done, I think we're going to have a really good outfield," Epstein said. "I think we kind of quietly had one of the better outfields in all of baseball last year, if you look at what Drew did, what Bay did and the progress that Jacoby [Ellsbury] made was pretty darn good. We'd like to have that again."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.