There were hints all along that there was a lot more to how Jason Bay ended up not re-signing with the Boston Red Sox than what was on the surface, and on Friday we learned a lot more about how the months-long negotiations between the Red Sox and Bay broke down.
Bay gave his side of the story to reporter Rob Bradford, who relayed a timeline of events from the player's perspective on WEEI.com. In a nutshell, Bay says he had agreed to a deal to stay with the Red Sox in the middle of last season, but it broke down over medical concerns after he took a physical. The Red Sox tweaked their proposal and Bay got second and third opinions that he claims did not show the same medical concerns. In the end, Bay chose to take a guaranteed deal with the New York Mets over Boston's deal, which included medical contingencies.
Here's a bullet-point timeline of how it went down, as Bay described it to Bradford.
- Bay agreed to a four-year, $60 million deal with a $17 million team option for a fifth season to remain with the Red Sox back in July.
- That offer was pulled off the table after the Red Sox had concerns about Bay's knees and shoulder, which were revealed in a physical.
- The Red Sox, according to Bay, replaced that offer with a two-year deal (for $15 million per season) that included options for third and fourth years that were contingent on Bay's health and productivity. In addition, Bay told WEEI.com, the offer also required Bay to undergo knee surgery after the 2009 season.
- Bay got a second opinion on his knees and shoulder and, according to the player, the doctors said there was no cause for concern.
- When negotiations between Bay and the Red Sox started up again in late October, Boston's revised offer still included medical contingencies in the third and fourth years of the contract, but Bay would no longer be required to have knee surgery.
- When Bay told the Red Sox that the doctor he sought out for a second opinion did not agree with the Red Sox's initial diagnosis, the team suggested they seek a third opinion from an agreed-upon doctor. According to Bay, that doctor also did not see reason for concern about Bay's knees or shoulder.
- At the winter meetings in Indianapolis in early December, the Red Sox presented Bay's agent, Joe Urbon, with yet another revised contract, this one with three years guaranteed and a fourth-year option that included the medical stipulations that were in the previous proposal.
- On Dec. 12, the Red Sox called Urbon for an answer on the proposal. Urbon declined the offer.
- The next day, the Red Sox reached a five-year, $82.5 million contract with pitcher John Lackey.
"I was shocked, to say the least, that I was being told to have knee surgery in order to get the contract," Bay told WEEI.com, "particularly since I wasn't hurt."