The New York Post’s Bart Hubbach surmises — correctly, I reckon — that luring OF Jason Bay away from the still-very-interested Boston Red Sox might require more than a cosmetic gesture like offering the free agent the exact same 3-year, $60 million pact he’d already turned down to stay at Fenway.

A team source said yesterday that the Mets™ offer to Bay (above) is heavily backloaded, with roughly $10 million committed in the first year before the deal balloons to around $20 million in the final season.

The ball is in Bay™s court now that the Mets have awakened from their offseason slumber to make offers to him and veteran catcher Bengie Molina while keeping an eye on John Lackey and secondtier starters Joel Pineiro and Jason Marquis.

Skepticism remains high, especially in Boston, that the Mets are serious contenders to land Bay if the two offers stay roughly the same and the Red Sox ultimately decide against pursuing Matt Holliday, considered the premier free-agent left fielder in this year™s market.

A fifth year from the Mets could be the deciding factor, though, because the Red Sox reportedly are adamant about not going to five years in their offer to Bay.

The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham reports this evening that Bay’s agent claims he’s rejected the Red Sox’s proposal, leading Abraham to sneer, “good luck with the JV team in New York”.  Hey, at least he didn’t call the Mets an intramural squad.