It is fitting though that Bay ends his Met career this way, literally getting a severance package, much in the same way Sandy Alderson ate the contracts of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. In a lot of way Bay’s two tenures as Met property represents all that has gone wrong with this franchise since Mike Piazza skied out to Bernie Williams to end the 2000 World Series.
As an Expo prospect he is gobbled up by one of Steve Phillips’ classic assembling spare parts deal for infielder Lou Collier in March of 2002. In July, he is packaged in the Bobby Jones to San Diego trade in another classic “Steve Phillips love stockpiling relievers” transaction. Which was probably for the best, would Bay have blossomed here a few years later with Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran around? Possibly, but in 2002 the Mets, and Phillips, were clearly in the mindset of retooling on the fly and going after anyone that had a bit of value to them. So clearly anyone with potential, save for the true gems of the organization (save for a certain highly touted pitcher in August of 2004), could be the object of a trade for someone of either major league talent, or AAAA talent to fill out the Met roster.
Interestingly enough, Jason Bay wound up being traded along with Oliver Perez over a year later as the Padres picked up Brian Giles from the Pirates. With the Pirates of course Bay blossomed, winning the NL Rookie of The Year in 2004 and being selected to the NL All-Star Team in 2005. In the meantime, the Mets weren’t making fans feeling like Bay was “the one that got away” as offensive production, specifically from the outfield, was pretty much set with Carlos Beltran. While yes having Bay offsetting the decline of Cliff Floyd and having an ancient Moises Alou around, would have helped, not having his production was not the reason for the Mets to lose the 2006 NLCS or collapse in 2007 and 2008.
Moving on, Bay would be part of the three team trade that saw Manny Ramirez sent to LA, and Bay to Boston. Perhaps it was the band box that is Fenway Park that further inflated Bay’s offensive production in the 2009 season, but the free agent to be was considered to be one of the big ticket items heading into the winter of 2009. And so Jason Bay becomes a shining example of Omar Minaya’s flawed way of roster building. A 5 year, back loaded deal that was sure to be a headache if things went south in a hurry.
This was a staple of Minaya’s big ticket moves and one that consistently proves how flawed Minaya was as a general manager. While yes, the Mets needed a big bat, but the Mets were moving into a ballpark that was already being perceived as a hard place to play for a slugger. Still, the deal would be made, and while injuries plagued Bay’s 2010 season, it was clear that Bay’s offensive numbers were inflated a bit by playing in more offensively friendly ballparks.
And so after three rather underwhelming seasons, and apparently not much of a trade market for his services; the Mets have decided to cut their ties with Jason Bay, making him an unconditional free agent. Of course in an effort to provide the Mets with roster budget flexibility, the money owned for the remaining two years of Bay’s contract ($21 million) is being deferred over a short period of time. While it would have been advantageous to see if Bay could have produced in Spring Training, and then early in 2013 and turn him around (even though it was that kind of thinking that both got Bay to and from the Met organization back in 2002), it is probably for the best, and just like the eating of the Castillo and Perez deals, a sign that the Met current regime doesn’t like mistakes to linger more than they have to.
Going forward, well there really isn’t much to discuss as the middle of the road, between 65-70 wins outlook for 2013 seems very much like the outlook for 2012. While from all accounts Jason Bay is a good guy, but who knows if his lack of production was affecting the clubhouse, sometimes slumps can be contagious. And it is better to have a middle of the road season with a group of youngsters vying for outfield spots (and hoping Lucas Duda learns to have someone else move furniture for him) rather than a veteran looking to rebound from disastrous seasons.