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Bidding for Bay: Appears to be Mets vs. Mets

The Mets have agreed to a contract with

The Mets have agreed to a contract with power-hitting left fielder Jason Bay. Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

Another business day passed Friday, and the Mets still don't know whether Jason Bay will join them. But another potential Bay suitor all but eliminated itself from consideration.

When the Mariners acquired Milton Bradley from the Cubs - in return for pitcher Carlos Silva as part of a mutual salary dump - Seattle became even less likely to pursue Bay, who lives in nearby Kirkland, Wash.

Even before trading for Bradley, however, the Mariners didn't regard Bay as a high priority, as they were concerned about his ability to patrol Safeco Field's spacious leftfield. The Angels are more interested in acquiring a starting pitcher than an outfielder, and the Giants don't have the financial artillery to land Bay.

The Red Sox essentially bid farewell to Bay, their leftfielder of the last season and a half, this past week when they acquired Mike Cameron to play leftfield.

So the Mets stood in a holding pattern, not wanting to bid against themselves but also anxious about an unforeseen suitor swooping in and signing Bay.

The Mets have offered Bay a four-year deal for about $65 million, and they've indicated a willingness to guarantee a fifth year in return for a lower annual salary.

If there is another team in the running to sign Bay, that team has done an excellent job of keeping its interest quiet.

While the Mets have kept in touch with agent Scott Boras regarding free-agent outfielder Matt Holliday, the interest there has been "spotty," one person in the loop said. The Mets' clear focus is on Bay; Holliday is most engaged with the Cardinals and the Orioles.

The Mets also are at a standstill with free-agent catcher Bengie Molina, whom they badly want to sign but who wants a three-year contract. The Mets have offered a two-year deal. Other catchers are available on the free-agent market, including Rod Barajas and Yorvit Torrealba, but for now, the Mets appear content to wait some more on Molina.

Eventually, the Mets will acquire another starting pitcher. The free-agent market of pitchers has slowed down - the opposite of what you'd expect to happen once the highly regarded John Lackey signed with Boston - and the Mets still have a level of interest in Doug Davis, Jon Garland, Jason Marquis and Joel Piñeiro.

While the Mets profess confidence in young first baseman Daniel Murphy, who experienced a turbulent 2009, general manager Omar Minaya will watch free agent Carlos Delgado play winter ball in Puerto Rico.

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