Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Jason Bay and Torii Hunter aren't stars anymore, but both would be solid fits for the Boston Red Sox.
Jason Bay isn't the Jason Bay he used to be, and Torii Hunter certainly isn't the Torii Hunter he once was, either. In their primes, both were among the fifty best players in baseball, both possessing skill sets that made them coveted men.
Age has gotten the better of Bay and Hunter, but in the right situation, they can each still help a team. That team could -- and should -- be the Boston Red Sox.
Bay, the former Pittsburgh Pirates up-and-coming left fielder who was acquired in the Manny Ramirez trade by the Sox, basically fell off the map after leaving Boston in free agency and joining the New York Mets for lots of money. Bay, a .274 hitter with 45 home runs and 156 RBI in 200 games with the Red Sox, spent three total years with the (less than) Amazin' Mets and never hit higher than .259, hit more than 12 home runs or played in more than 123 games.
Is Bay the same guy he was in Boston? No, he isn't. Is it worth taking a flyer on Bay if you're the Red Sox? Probably so. While acknowledging that Bay is no longer a guaranteed 30 home run, 100-RBI caliber player, adding Bay would be beneficial for both sides. Bay, now damaged good, is looking to reprove his worth, and thus would not demand a big dollar deal, a la Josh Hamilton.
As for Boston, it isn't exactly a favorite to contend for a World Series title next season and must undergo a sort of rebuilding process, and Bay is a player who would not hurt the bridge year concept (since he would likely get a short term deal) and could be an asset if the Sox reach contender status ahead of schedule.
The same logic applies for Hunter, once considered the top center fielder in the game during his Minnesota Twins tenure. Sixteen big league seasons have yielded more than respectable numbers for the four-time MLB All-Star, with Hunter owning a lifetime .277 batting average with 1,986 hits, 297 long balls and 1,143 runs batted in. Hunter's 162-game average is impressive, too. He averages a .277 mark at the plate with 25 homers and 95 RBI. Unlike Bay, health hasn't been a dominant issue for Hunter as of late, who has played in 152-,156- and 140-games over the past three seasons at age 34, 35 and 36, respectively.
Plug Bay in left field and Hunter in right, sandwiching the All-Star and Gold Glover Jacoby Ellsbury, and that's certainly a step up from the way the Sox ended last season after their payroll-emptying trade with the Dodgers.
Now, there's certainly no guarantee that Bay or Hunter would be productive. They could both be washed up. Still, the key is the cost and where the Red Sox are today. You wouldn't have to pay either a lot of money, and if both could put up productive years, it could help turn Boston into a borderline contender.
They're low risk, high reward moves.
At the very least, it's more interesting than signing Kosuke Fukudome, isn't it?
Gethin Coolbaugh is the Editor of SB Nation Boston. Twitter: @GethinCoolbaugh.