Bay would be budget buster for Boston

Updated: December 24, 2009, 9:13 PM ET
ESPNBoston.com

Is Jason Bay coming back to the Boston Red Sox after all? Don't bet on it.

A team source told ESPNBoston.com on Wednesday night that while the club never says never, Bay's return to Boston would be a long shot since the Red Sox already have a left fielder: Mike Cameron, who signed a two-year deal with the Sox earlier this month. (Of course, Cameron could end up in center with Jacoby Ellsbury shifting to left).

With Bay continuing to twist in the free-agent winds, talk of his possibly revisiting his relationship with the Red Sox surfaced Wednesday night. According to a report on WEEI.com, which cites a team source, the Red Sox "have had internal discussions about extending their organizational budget to potentially allow for another offer" to Bay. The proposal would reportedly be in the range of the four-year, $60 million offer originally made to Bay by the team.

That organizational budget was already stretched by the five-year, $82 million deal struck with free-agent pitcher John Lackey. One source indicated to ESPN's Buster Olney that the Red Sox have less than $5 million in spending money. Short of blowing up their budget, the only way the Red Sox could work something out with Bay would be to find a way to dump some existing contracts, such as that of Cameron, who would have to lend his permission to such an arrangement.

Gordon Edes' estimate of the current payroll of the 2010 Red Sox falls somewhere around $166 million (give or take a few million), which puts them perilously close to the $170 million luxury-tax threshold. Signing a big name like Bay would put the Red Sox over that number, meaning they would need to pay a 22.5 percent luxury tax on every dollar spent over $170 million.

The only other known offer to Bay is from the New York Mets, who extended Bay a four-year deal worth between $60 million and $65 million.

The New York Yankees don't appear to be a suitor for either Bay or Matt Holliday despite having a hole in left field.

"It won't be a big-name situation, I can promise you that," Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters.

ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes, ESPN The Magazine senior writer Buster Olney and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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