Bay, who is six years younger than Ramirez, performed well down the stretch for Boston, hitting .293 and driving in 37 runs in 49 games as the Red Sox locked up the AL wild card. He followed that by hitting .341 in the ALDS and ALCS.
The left fielder is due to be a free agent at the end of this season, but according to Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox aren't about to let Bay walk without making a serious run at signing him to a contract extension.
Massarotti reports that once the free-agent outfield market is fully settled and players like Adam Dunn have signed with new teams, the Red Sox will approach Bay with an offer in line with the market established this winter. If that's the case, then Boston is picking a good time to try and lock him up. For a number of reasons, corner outfielders like Bay simply aren't getting that much -- in years or in annual salary -- this winter.
But if I'm Bay's agent, I'm not settling for a deal in the Pat Burrell/Raul Ibanez mold. For starters, Bay is a more complete player than any of the top corner bats on the market. He's better defensively than all of the top names available at his position and he's younger than everyone except Dunn.
There's also this: Boston really needs his bat going forward, especially after losing out on Mark Teixeira. The Red Sox's offensive core is aging, and other than Lars Anderson, they don't have an impact middle-of-the-order bat on the horizon in the minors.
If they can't come to an agreement with Bay this season, they'll have options next winter -- namely Matt Holliday -- but the Yankees will also be in the market for a left fielder with both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui coming off the books in 2009. The Red Sox know all too well how a bidding war with the rival Yankees usually ends.
Boston may hope it can sign Bay to one of those team-friendly extensions it has grown so fond of in the Theo Epstein era, especially with the market suddenly so cautious. But unless Bay really loves playing in Boston, he shouldn't settle for one.