Bay not a Ray
Update. 6:18: Exec VP Andrew Friedman just did a 15-minute conference call in which he wouldn't discuss any specifics of the Jason Bay deal, or any other. Basically, he just said they didn't have a deal they liked: "At the end of the day we didn't find something that lined up for us.''
He said he felt just as good about the Rays chances to make the postseason as he did before the moves (and non-moves) of the last few days and that he expected the players the Rays do have to improve, which will make the offense better.
"We're in first place on July 31 and we control our own destiny,'' Friedman said. "I feel we have the talent on hand to continue to do what we did the first two-thirds of the season.''
He also said it was "not clear yet" when Rocco Baldelli might rejoin the team; his 20-day rehab assignment at Double-A Montgomery expires after Friday's game.
Update, 4:50 Okay, details are starting to filter out. According to mlb.com, the players going to Pittsburgh are Boston OF Brandon Moss and RHP Craig Hansen and Los Angeles INF Andy LaRoche and RHP Bryan Morris (who was the Rays third-round pick in 2005 and didn't sign).
Update, 4:32 SI.com's Jon Heyman says Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers and Bay is going to the Red Sox as part of the deal. The Pirates reportedly get four minor-leaguers. He also said the Marlins were back in at the end, but the Red Sox chose to make the deal with the Dodgers. ESPN.com reports two of the players going to Pittsburgh are INF Andy LaRoche and RHP Bryan Morris (who was the Rays third-round pick in 2005 and didn't sign). More details to come.
Update, 4:21 There's a reason the Rays didn't get Bay - mlb.com now reports he "may" have been traded instead to the Dodgers. Or not. The same report is now at least raising the question if Bay could be going to Boston and Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers. So we'll wait on that.
Update 4:08 There's no deal for Jason Bay. Sounds like neither side would blink on demands. Expect to hear more soon, and to talk with Rays exec VP Andrew Friedman later this afternoon
Update, 4:03 Nothing yet.
Update, 3:55 Still no word that it's done, or that it's not. Though the deadline is at 4, it can take a while for all things to get sorted out through the commissioner's office.
Update, 3:45 Now mlb.com is backing off, saying there are "conflicting reports" and that either Niemann or Brignac might not be in the deal. Which is pretty much where we were an hour ago.
Update, 3:38 p.m. mlb.com is sticking to its story, with a second report saying "a source in Pittsburgh has corroborated" the earlier report. Rays still not confirming it. And neither are the Pirates.
Update, 3:22: Mlb.com reports the Rays are going to get Bay for "prospects including" SS Reid Brignac and RHP Jeff Niemann. But the Rays have not confirmed the deal, and the Times was told that report was not correct.
Update, 2:58: Not sure exactly what this will mean an hour from now, but just heard the talks with the Pirates have progressed past the point of them wanting the four prospects the Rays don't want to trade. So that would mean the Rays could have an opportunity to get the deal done without giving up SS Reid Brignac, or RHPs Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson (LHP David Price wasn't going anywhere anyway). If so, that would seem to make it more likely though it remains unclear if it will happen. In that scenario, RHP Jeff Niemann might be the key to the deal.
Also, according to ESPN.com, the Rockies now seem very much unlikely to trade LHP Brian Fuentes, who was on the top of the Rays' list of relievers.
With a little more than 90 minutes until the trade deadline, Rays officials are still working feverishly to try to make a deal. With the Manny Ramirez three-way deal dead, it sounds like the Rays could be very much back in the chase for Pirates OF Jason Bay.
What it may come down to more than anything is who blinks - if the Pirates are willing to lower their demands for the Rays' top prospects, or if the Rays take one of those prospects off the untouchable list. The elite group the Rays have been steadfast about not trading is SS Reid Brignac, LHP David Price and RHPs Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson.
There's been some speculation that the Pirates want Brignac and either Hellickson or Davis.The Rays seem more likely to offer RHP Jeff Niemann, and the question is whether they would put Brignac in the deal.
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.)