I neglected to mention earlier this afternoon that the Seattle Mariners officially signed Jason Bay to a one-year, major-league contract. I neglected to mention it mostly because we already knew this was coming, for days. It's a weird thing that the Internet has brought on. In the past, we would've found out today or tomorrow that the Mariners had signed Bay to a deal. Now, we knew the two sides were close earlier in the week, and we knew they had an agreement days ago. We knew almost all the particulars and details of the contract. We knew they were just waiting to make it official until after the Rule 5 draft, or something. We'd already considered the Jason Bay acquisition and developed our fully-formed opinions of it before the Mariners sent out the press release announcing the signing. In other words, by the time the Mariners would acknowledge that they had Jason Bay's signature, everyone had already moved on to thinking about other things. What about Josh Hamilton? What about Nick Swisher? That's great about this guy. What about the next guy?
I lied up there when I said "that's great about this guy" because there's nothing great about the Mariners signing Jason Bay. Not for us, as Mariners fans. I suppose there's something potentially great, but do you know what "great" means? Do you know what Jason Bay has done on baseball fields in the recent past? There's a reason Bay's contract isn't entirely guaranteed. He'll only get the other half of his $1 million base if he makes the roster out of spring training. There's a reason Bay is getting a chance, of course, but he signed this sort of contract because there's an excellent chance that he just really blows now.
Listen to the Mariners, and they'll express to you their optimism. Listen to Bay, and he'll express to you how excited he is to get this shot close to home, after a change of scenery. Remember that they basically have to sound like that. The Mariners selected Jason Bay, and Jason Bay also selected the Mariners. Both of them think there's potential here -- probably Bay, more than the Mariners' front office -- but they're not going to be publicly honest. Bay isn't going to acknowledge to the media his deep, profound fears that he's approaching the end of the road. The Mariners aren't going to acknowledge that Bay might well be a pile of crap. There's positive spin because that's just how these things go, and you shouldn't let yourself be misled by it. Maybe Bay works out. Probably, he will not do that.
It's a shot. Whatever. There's always a maybe, and Bay will certainly feel more comfortable so close to home, and maybe there were psychological complications in New York, and the guy did hit 36 dingers in 2009 and 31 dingers in 2008. Bay isn't being handed a job, and if he earns a job, he won't earn a major job. There's the potential for him to do only so much damage, and if he's actually okay, he could be somewhat popular. We'll see what he's like in spring training. That's when the Mariners will make their evaluation, and it's worth noting that Bay hasn't homered in spring training since 2010. I mean I guess that's worth noting. In spring 2010, Bay was amazing. Guess what Bay wasn't in summer 2010!
The truth is that Bay is a low-risk flyer, and the only reason this is getting so many words and so much attention is because we don't have anything better to do while we wait for the rest of the offseason to play out. You can laugh at the Mariners for picking through another team's garbage, but as a resident of Portland, Oregon, I can tell you that sometimes people throw out useful things, and the Mariners don't stand to lose anything meaningful here unless they really fuck up. It's funny that the Mariners hurried to sign Jason Bay after cutting Chone Figgins. For now it doesn't actually mean much of anything and the Mariners will continue trying to fill out their roster with players better than Jason Bay is.
The real, actual news here is that, to make 40-man roster room, the Mariners designated Mauricio Robles for assignment. That doesn't mean Robles is gone, yet, since he could make it through waivers and remain in the system, but Robles is left-handed and not 75 years old, so he could easily be claimed. Robles is actually somehow still just 23. That's neat for him. On the other hand:
Robles lost time in 2011 to elbow surgery. He came back in 2012 and was really bad in two different places. The strikeouts show you that Robles does still have fine-enough stuff, especially for a could-be lefty reliever. The walks show you why Robles was designated for assignment this afternoon despite that. It's not every day that teams cut loose left-handed pitchers who get strikeouts in the upper minors, and since the Mariners aren't woefully incompetent, that's information of meaning.
Robles was somewhat exciting when he came over in the Jarrod Washburn trade. At that point we couldn't believe the Mariners turned Washburn into two young pitchers of probable consequence. Robles, in 2012, got designated for assignment to make roster room for Jason Bay. Luke French gave the Mariners an ERA over 5, and the last two years in triple-A, he's given his teams an ERA over 6. We thought there was value coming back in the Jarrod Washburn trade, and at the time, there was, but hands down the best thing about the Jarrod Washburn trade was when the Mariners lit him up in the middle of August. In the end, the Mariners may not have gotten anything out of the Washburn trade, but neither did the Tigers, and neither did Washburn, who hasn't pitched professionally since that September. That trade had no winners.
Maybe Robles stays in the system. In that case, neat. Maybe Robles gets claimed and goes away. In that case, good luck. We have other things to worry about. We have Jason Bay to worry about. Because as of today, officially, Jason Bay is a Seattle Mariner. In the grand scheme of things, the Mariners didn't really miss getting Bay at his career peak by that much. What's a few years, in the whole history of the universe? The Mariners missed by the blink of an eye. The Mariners have existed for the blink of an eye.