This has been the moment that all Mets fans have been waiting for. On Wednesday, Jason Bay and the Mets agreed to part ways in a buyout that will pay the disgraced outfielder $21 million over the next few years. Bay was approaching the last year of his four-year, $65 million deal that the Mets signed him too in hopes that he would be a solid power hitter behind David Wright.
Bay released a statement about the release that will make the 34 year old a free agent this off-season and will allow him to make more than the league minimum (although we’re guessing no team would give him more than that anyway):
“I still feel I have plenty to give to this game and that I can play baseball at a high level. But after serious consideration, both sides agree that we would benefit from a fresh start. I’m grateful we were able to reach an agreement to allow that to happen. I’m excited to keep playing and have no intention of just walking away.”
Jason Bay (left) had an abysmal run while a member on the Mets. That is why he and the team agreed to part ways on Wednesday even though he still had one year left on his contract. PHOTO COURTESY: HUNTER MARTIN/GETTY IMAGES
Although many around the organization figured that this was going to happen, it was shocking to actually see it unfold. While Bay underperformed during his years with the Mets (.234 with 26 homeruns and 124 RBIs in 288 games played) there were a few things that Bay had in his favor that could have kept him with the Mets for next season.
Because of the money woes that the team faces it was unclear if the Mets were willing to pay a guy that isn’t even on their roster. What made this an easier decision was 2012 showed that Bay’s skills have truly diminished. During his three years with the Mets, Bay suffered numerous injuries that really took a toll on him and made him the player that he is now. By the midway point of this past season, Bay was seen as nothing better than a late inning defensive replacement.
The Mets realized that having Bay on the roster would hinder their ability to give another player the opportunity to play every day.
The only reason Bay was even considered a defensive replacement was because of the hustle that he showed on the field. One thing that could never be said about Bay (unlike other great Mets busts such as Oliver Perez) was that he was dogging it. His hustle was evident every time he hit a weak ground ball to the shortstop this year because he always busted it down the line.
In fact, two of his concussions as a Met happened after he crashed into the wall in attempt to make spectacular fielding plays. His effort was never in question but the results are what ultimately lead to Bay’s departure.
Bay also was a model citizen inside the clubhouse and won the admiration from many of his teammates. During 2012 when he batted .165 with 8 homeruns and 20 RBIs, manager Terry Collins significantly cut his playing time while he was healthy. Some stars making big money would make a stink no matter how bad they were playing, but Bay never complained. He was always quoted saying the right things and showing he was a true team player.
Even Mets owner and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon took notice of how good he was in the clubhouse. In the same NY Times story, Wilpon praised Bay for his effort while a member of the Mets.
“Jason is a great teammate, hard worker, stand-up guy and true gentleman. Like Jason, we had planned for the kind of production here that he enjoyed in Boston and Pittsburgh, where he established himself as one of the game’s top players. We wish Jason and his family success and happiness in the future.”
Although the Mets will be required to pay Bay’s remaining salary, the move gives the Mets financial flexibility; for now at least. The Mets are still not expected to make any big moves in free agency, but they can use the extra cash to focus on locking up Wright and pitcher R.A. Dickey long-term.
Only time will tell what the team will do with the extra money as the entire roster needs improvement. Fans are happy and not surprised that Bay is no longer a Met, and now they will have to find an ample replacement for their starting left fielder.
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Contributor – Dave Ragazzo – @DRagazzo_Sports
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