Bay to Bay?
Update, 4:25 p.m. While the Rays are still talking with the Pirates about OF Jason Bay, the deal does not appear imminent and there remains a lot to be resolved, the Times has learned. The Pirates may have other teams involved, or they mey be hoping that by word getting out they are talking with the Rays that they can get other teams more involved. And the Rays may have other options as well.
Update, 2:30 p.m. While Rays officials haven't said anything about the talks (or the reports), the Post-Gazette's Dejan Kovacevic reports "two prospect names known to be in the mix on the Rays' end are shortstop Reid Brignac and pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.'' In an update attributed to another source, it says the "names coming up most often'' are Brignac and RHP Jeff Niemann. The paper also reports that the Cardinals are also interested in Bay.
Update, 12:55 p.m. SI.com's Jon Heyman reports "the Rays-Pirates talks regarding Jason Bay have been upgraded to "50-50," according to an NL source. Pittsburgh is looking around to see if it can do better, but to date, Tampa appears to have the best offer.''
And ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports that "sources indicate to ESPN that while nothing is imminent, the two side are talking constructively and trying to bridge the gap.''
In a related matter, mlbtraderumors.com links to Charlottesville, Va., radio report that Rays scout Mike Cubbage said he was scouting Phillies OF Jayson Werth, who is hitting .272 and is good against lefty pitchers, and also confirms that the Rays made an offer to Pittsburgh for OF Xavier Nady and LHP Damaso Marte but the Pirates preferred the Yankees' offer.
The Rays-Pirates talks regarding Jason Bay have been upgraded to "50-50,'' according to an NL source. Pittsburgh is looking around to see if it can do better, but to date, Tampa appears to have the best offer. Bay would be a perfect fit in Tampa, as they badly need a righthanded hitter, especially one that can play right field.
With a report of Pittsburgh that the Pirates are "deep into trade talks" with the Rays and unnamed other teams about OF Jason Bay, Rays manager Joe Maddon sounded optimistic this morning and said there now was a "solid 50-50" chance the Rays would be active before Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver deals.
"There are still some things on the table, and they're interesting, actually, so we'll see,'' Maddon said. "I mean really interesting, possibly.''
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also said, however, that it was still "better than 50-50" that Bay would not be traded, and that none of the engaged teams were offering "a truly elite prospect" nor was it expected the Pirates would receive a "bounty - say four of a team's top 10 prospects.''
So what would the Rays give up? It seems clear they don't want to deal any of their elite prospects, LHP David Price, SS Reid Brignac and RHPs Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson. But OF Fernando Perez would be a possibility, as would RHP Jeff Niemann. The Pirates are supposedly in need of pitching, and the Rays have plenty at all levels.
According to mlb.com, Pirates ownership last week killed a deal that would have sent Bay to the Braves. The exact offer was not reported, but the report suggested a framework: "The Pirates have interest in shortstop Brent Lillibridge, who they developed before sending to the Braves in exchange for Adam LaRoche last year. In addition, they'd likely ask for outfielder Brandon Jones and a pair of prospects that are currently playing at the Class A level.'
The Pirates also have a lefthanded reliever, John Grabow, who could be of interest to the Rays.
Bay, 29, was NL Rookie of the Year for Pittsburgh in 2004 and an All-Star in 2005 and 2006, averaging 31 homers and 97 RBIs, but dropped off in 2007, hitting .247 with 21 homers and 84 RBIs. He has bounced back this season, hitting .284 with 22 homers and 62 RBIs in 105 games.
A native of Canada who came up with the Padres, Bay is in the third season of a four-year, $18.25-million deal. He is making $5.75-million this season, and signed for next season at $7.5-million.
(AP photo. Click to enlarge.)