2:20 pm Nov. 7, 2012
The New York Mets and Jason Bay reached an agreement on what the Mets called "an early expiration of his contract."
The Mets owed Jason Bay $16 million for 2013, a $3 million buyout of his 2014 option, and $2 million in bonus money, according to one report. (How he qualified for a bonus is hard to imagine.*) The Mets have come to the conclusion, not unreasonably, that it is better for them to pay him that money not to play for them.
Terms were not disclosed, but it is unlikely that the Mets managed to get out of paying Bay nearly his entire contract. But if they saved even one dollar with this move, it makes sense for them. (Jon Heyman is reporting that they are on the hook for it all, but some is deferred.) And if they didn't ... it still probably makes sense for them.
Bay, a decent person, has been just terrible for the Mets. Signed after the 2009 season, one in which Bay hit 36 home runs for the Boston Red Sox, Bay managed just 26 home runs over three seasons in New York, repeatedly missing time with injuries, and seeming to return from each one with less ability each time.
The buyout is useful for Bay, too. He gets to try and latch on with another team, absent much of the pressure of his contract. And his new team has no disincentive to play him regularly in 2013, while Bay had a clause in his deal with the Mets that automatically vested his 2014 salary, at $17 million, if Bay should reach 600 plate appearances next season.
The Mets released quotes from Jeff Wilpon, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins and Bay himself in the press release announcing the decision.
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 reaction on Twitter was less one of revenge sought, the way it was with underachieving, early contract releases like Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. No one, after all, doubted Bay's efforts, with many of his injuries coming from doing things like crashing into walls and pitching face-first into the ground. Instead, it was more about relief.
Jason Bay was not producing at a major league level. The New York Mets accepted this, finally.
In an off-season that doesn't appear likely to produce much new talent for the Mets, cutting Jason Bay was one of the few fan-friendly things the team could do.
*UPDATE: The bonus money was the remaining portion of Bay's signing bonus.