The New York Mets and outfielder Jason Bay have agreed to terms on an early termination of Bay’s contract with the club, the team announced Wednesday.
After severely underperforming since inking a four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets in the winter of 2009, Bay will now have an opportunity to rediscover his once stellar career. As a member of the Mets, Bay spent much of his three season tenure battling concussions and nagging injuries while hitting a disappointing .234 with 26 home runs in 288 games over that span. This past season Bay hit just .165 with eight home runs and while becoming a part-time player in the process.
Through a team press release, Bay said, “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. I enjoyed my time in New York. I have no regrets in signing with the Mets, other than that I wasn’t able to play to the level that the team, the fans and I all expected and that we weren’t able to win more games. I move on with nothing but an appreciation for the organization and its fans and best wishes to all my teammates there.”
The move grants Bay the immediate right to become a free agent on the open market while the Mets gain much needed financial flexibility in the short term. While the terms of the early buyout were not released by the Mets in the press release, multiple reports say that Bay will earn every cent he is owed by New York over a deferred period of time.
Bay will receive the full $16 million base salary he is owed in 2013 along with the $3 million in his 2014 buyout clause and $2 million in signing bonus money that he is still owed. Much like they did with failed slugger Bobby Bonilla in the late 90’s, the Mets will pay Bay that amount over an undisclosed period of time.
As the General Manager meetings got underway this morning in California, Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson acted swiftly so that he can now begin formulating a roster plan for this upcoming season. The Mets are now left with a void in both left and centerfield and are said to not be enamored with Lucas Duda in right field either. It was no secret heading into this Hot Stove season that the Mets prime focus of the off-season was to bolster their outfield production and this move just confirms their intentions.
“Jason has a tremendous work ethic. There was never any question about it,” said Alderson. “Unfortunately, the results weren’t there and we are in a results-oriented business. We thank Jason for his efforts and wish him well.”
Though the Mets technically don’t save any money in the move, it was a move that had to be done. Bay is one of the final holdovers from the Omar Minaya regime who has struggled mightily in Flushing and has since become the brunt of all Mets fans despair.
The Mets now subtract Bay from their plans and allow them to move on while Bay has an opportunity to seek a change of scenery that he hopes will benefit his career. New York found it to be in their best interest as a franchise to go ahead and pay Bay $21 million to play for anybody but them.