Mark November 7 on your calendar for years to come: it will forever be known as Bay Day (at least in Mets’ circles).
The Mets did the inevitable and finally cut their losses while agreeing to part ways with the much-maligned Jason Bay on Wednesday afternoon. This news comes as great relief for Mets’ fans worldwide, who now have the comfort of knowing the Mets will have no obligation of trotting out an underperforming outfielder- big contract or not-everyday.
This had to happen. The Mets’ front office wanted to get it out of the way, as Sandy Alderson is now in California at the GM meetings working with a new, clean slate.
While the Mets will ultimately have to swallow a lot of money-not to mention pride-this parting of ways was beneficial to all parties involved. The Mets can now move forward in putting together an outfield void of one big albatross. Bay can move on too. Bay is now free to sign with anyone and with a clear conscious and out of the New York spotlight maybe Bay could rebound in some other small market. If there was anyone who needs a change of scenery it is most certainly Bay. Hey it worked for A.J. Burnett.
Bay’s story is an exercise in caution. After signing a four-year deal with the Mets in 2010 for $66 million Bay was supposed to pick up where he left off in his last season in Boston where he posted a .267/.384/.537 slash line to go with 36 home runs and 119 RBI’s. However, Bay started off on a bad foot, battled concussion and rib injuries, and never endeared himself to the Mets’ faithful en route to a miserable stint with New York.
Bay hit only .234 in his three wretched years with the Mets. Signed here to add some thump to the lineup, Bay only produced 26 home runs and 124 RBI’s in 288 games as a Met. It was an experiment that failed on so many levels.
It was that type of frivolous spending why Alderson was brought to Queens. Alderson was to eventually rid the Mets of bloated contracts and work with a more balanced payroll while working from the farm up. Now Alderson can go about upgrading the outfield while not having to worry about Bay. Sure, the Mets still have to pay Bay his money, but the deal is likely to be deferred over the next few years.
Now there will be no black cloud hanging over the Mets’ clubhouse. No longer will Terry Collins have to pencil in Bay because of his contract. No longer will he or the team have to answer about the maddening unproductivity of Bay.
Look, Bay is a standup guy in a world short on them. Bay always hustled, always gave 110 percent, always was coachable and never made excuses. However, for both sides to move on a split was not only refreshing but necessary.
As Alderson reiterated on Wednesday this is a results-oriented business and despite Bay’s good-guy demeanor and attitude, this was a decision that needed to be made in order for the Mets to move forward.
So, from a personal standpoint I’ll cheer for Bay as he is one of the good guys, but the Mets and Bay was a marriage that needed to be ended. And thankfully it did on Wednesday.
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15 comments on “Bay/Mets divorce good for everyone involved”
Solid and fair article. The quotes about Bay appear sincere and not the usual line often given.
I think of the movie, Moneyball, in which David Justice is told, “No, the Yankees are paying you ($millions) to play against them.”
It is a tough business because there is always one team willing to offer silly, budget breaking money to one guy. Even when a free agent floats in the press how much money he wants over how many years which is met with ridicule and scorn, there is always one team that either pays the ransom, or comes close to it.
If RA is asking for too much money, the Mets need to seriously listen to offers. They do not need to be paying a 40 year old a fortune to not play ball for them. I hope RA has a short leash on his agent.
Respectfully, why in the world would R.A. put a short leash on his agent? I believe that R.A. values the Mets organization and appreciates his time in Citifield. He’s a guy who lost his $800,000 signing bonus (sorry, that’s from memory, might not be exact) when he went for a standard MRI in Texas. He bounced around in the minors forever. And now, well, he’s climbed that mountain — literally, figuratively, spiritually. He wants a good, fair, market-value contract. That said: life is uncertain, guys get hurt. The Mets can offer R.A. certainty right now, guarantee a big pile of money (say, 3 yrs @ $32 million, ripping up the 2013 extension), and let him relax. Alderson has some bargaining position here. R.A. can reject the Mets offer, but then he’ll likely be traded and run the risk of injury, etc. But, back to my point: his agent should fight for the best contract possible. It’s very possible that he’ll be traded — but I won’t be blaming his agent if that’s the case.
So, the Mets officially need to find an OF to replace Bay, after unofficially needing one for a year and a half now.
I just disagree that this was a frivolous deal at the time. Perhaps an overpay, but Bay and Matt Holliday were the top two hitters on the market and Holliday got 7/$120 — significantly more than Bay did.
You try things with the understanding that not all of them are going to work. While it sure seems that the Mets have had quite a few of these things not work out, I’d be willing to be a bunch of other teams in the majors feel the same way.
The key is that you have to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. I asked for the Mets to release Bay back in July of 2011. Better late than never, I guess.
The thing with Free Agency is that players are Always overpaid. Why? Because simple economics anaylsis shows that it is always more cost-effective to pay someone minimum and have them put up .5 WAR than to pay someone 20 million to put up 5 WAR. And the risk is much higher because if the player making 20 million “only” puts up 1-2 WAR, the contract is an albatross.
I would have liked to see Bay gone sooner as well, but if waiting that 3-4 extra months resulted in some savings in 2013, i think it was worth the wait.
I don’t mean to be pedantic but it’s clearly not true that free agents are always overpaid. Ronny Cedeno and Scott Hairston were free agents following the 2011 season and both out-performed their contracts.
Unfortunately, we cannot take anything that anyone in the Mets organization says about payroll at face value. I’d rather not have any information at all then to be lied to like we’ve been since Alderson came aboard. Even if Alderson said, “This move gives us $5 million more for payroll in 2013,” does that really tell us anything at all? All we’ve heard is that payroll is supposed to be similar to last year’s mark, which was around $95 million. So if the Mets end up spending $90 million in 2013, that’s certainly around $95. So, did they really spend the $5 million from Bay on 2013? Which leads us to one of two thoughts:
The Mets were lying when they said earlier in the offseason that the payroll would be similar (as I don’t consider $85 million similar to $95 million)
The Mets were lying when they said they were going to apply $5 million of Bay’s contract to this year’s payroll
Finally, they could have saved money by releasing him. My understanding, which was confirmed by Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, is that if the Mets released Bay they would not have been responsible for either his option or his buyout. If they released him they would not have had to pay him his $3 million buyout. But they would have to pay him the money he was owed in 2013 when it was due.
You’re clearly correct that FA’s aren’t always overpaid. I was thinking more of big free agents that command more than 40+ million.
But I find it hard to believe that releasing someone would cause the buyout to be voided. Few know the exact language of the contract though.
Bottom line is that all teams make mistakes, and big market teams should have the ability to absorb one or two without crippling the ability to fill holes or improve the club. Without monday morning QBing, my biggest issue is that the Mets were bidding against themselves. My recollection is that in his final yeaer in Beantown, the Sox offered 4 yrs/$60 mil, which Bay turned down. Then the Sox retracted the offer due to some health concerns. It struck me that like the Glavine negotiations, the Mets couild have got the player on slightly better terms, meaning lower annual pay or perhaps even the 4th year not guaranteed. No one in their right mind thought his performance would have declined so much, but if they managed to guarantee only 3 years, the impact on 2013 budget would be huge. Now the Mets have deferred some payment for more 2013 payroll flexibility, and Bay is gone. Both good, but why the big secret about the payment deferral? Might it be that they aren’t willing to up the 2013 payroll by the deferred total? Again, this could be huge. Now Puma is leaking that the impact on 2013 is “minimal”. Ok, I get the poker faces since they are negotiating with DW, RA, and FAs, but the also owe it to the paying fans to fill the holes and put the most competitive product possible on the field for 2013, without mortgaging the future by trading off key talent or signing bloated contracts.
The key to this move is how much the Mets saved and how much got deferred. I haven’t seen the final numbers but the Mets would need to save $10 Mil to be able to add anything significant in 2013 and now in 2014 and beyond the Mets have money hanging over their heads for two outfielders not on the team: Bonilla and Bay.
Nice article Dan. I like and agree with the perspective.
Free agency and the future are things to add up carefully. In hindsight, we all saw the horror show production, but predicting that would happen is simply not, well, predictable. We can look at Pujols right now and see what a 250M$ disaster looks like. In any event, he was paid a competitive rate and we lost out. That happens. Whats concerning is the thought that comparing production in Fenway with a “non-traditional” left field and then expecting the same at Citi is quite frankly ludicrous.
Im glad the Mets and Bay have parted company. But, like Dan, I wish him all the success in the world with a new team (as long as it is not against the Mets!)
The big thing at the time is that the Mets preferred Bay because of his pull tendencies, which was better than a hitter like Wright who went to RF a lot. Of course it seemed like when Bay did pull the ball, he hit it on the ground and his few HR seemed to got to RF…
Plus, Bay hit 15 HR at home in 2009 and 21 on the road. It’s erroneous to think he was merely a Fenway slugger.
I agree. With the power of hindsight this was disaster. At the time I thought the signing was solid-no argument there. And I do remember the Mets liking Bay for hid pull-hitting tendencies and the fact that Holliday would command a bigger payday. Thankfully its over now.
While that’s true Brian, he would now be facing a big left field and the Great Wall of flushing…and 81 games. Planning to spend a fortune on a guy that hits a lot of HRs on the road seems crazy to me!!
I don’t get that. I see the logic in not wanting a guy who hit a lot of HR at home – perhaps he was able to take advantage of something in his home park – but why wouldn’t you want a guy who has proven he can hit homers in any park?
A very good post. I particularly appreciated the third paragraph from the bottom.
So per some sources, it seems like the Mets will be deferring/saving $15 million during the 2013 season. That is a significant amount and puts the Mets in contention for many more Free Agents.
Thank you for at least helping the Mets someway Bay.