As the Manny Ramirez saga continues to extend itself far beyond the point that any of us even really want to think about it, there is a forgotten bit player in the story. He's the guy that's been the forgotten man in the story all along: Jason Bay.
After Bay hit nine homers in 49 games with the Red Sox, then clubbed the ball at a torrid pace through both the ALDS and ALCS last year, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Sox would lock up Bay to an extension beyond the end of his current deal, which takes him only through the 2009 season. Instead, he and the team haven't spoken at all about an extension and with camp opening up in a couple short weeks, it seems possible that they never will.
So what gives? There are likely a few factors at play. In the linked article, it's mentioned that Matt Holliday and Vladimir Guerrero will both be free agents next winter as well. As good as Bay was last year, he turned 30 before the end of last season and he's still only a year removed from an injury-induced .247/.327/.418 year. His basic skill set, power and a knack for getting on base, are widely referred to as "old player skills," which could be an indication that his peak may not last long enough for the Red Sox to justify signing him to an extension.
It's also hard to ignore that Bay is making $7.5 million this year while guys with similar skill sets, like Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu, are having a hard time pulling down a number even with that in free agency. As strange as it sounds, there just may not be many benefits for Boston in locking Bay up to any sort of long-term deal right now.