The Jason Bay era with the New York Mets is officially over. On Wednesday, the club announced they had come to an agreement to terminate the Canadian outfielder’s contract two years early. Terms of the buyout were not disclosed publicly.
Bay was due to be paid $16 million in 2013, and the Mets were also on the hook for another $3 million for a 2014 contract option and a $2-million signing bonus under the terms of a deal he signed before the 2010 season for four years and approximately $66 million.
That investment proved to be unwise for the Mets: Bay went on to hit a total of 26 home runs and drive in 124 runs in 288 games in the past three years. In 2009 alone, his last season in Boston, he played 151 games and spanked 36 homers with 119 RBIs; he won the Silver Slugger award for his efforts.
To be fair to Bay, he missed significant time due to injuries, specifically two concussions, during his tenure with the Mets: in 486 possible regular-season games, he missed 198 of them (41 percent). Nonetheless, it had become apparent to even the casual baseball fan that Bay’s skills were not what they once were. His batting average, usually in the mid- to high-.280s, had shrunk to a three-year average of .223. This is a player who won the National League Rookie of the Year in 2004 and appeared in three All-Star Games: 2005, ’06, and ’09.
“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,” Bay said in a statement released by the Mets Wednesday. “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.”
So, where will he go next? A writer in the Seattle Times penned a column titled “Jason Bay could be (a) good reclamation project for the Mariners.” Indeed, Bay now seems to fit what has become the prototypical M’s player: a sweet swinger with little power but decent range. He’s also a local: Bay was born in Trail, B.C. and lives near Safeco Field in nearby Kirkland, Washington.
There is another report he has some interest in returning to the Boston Red Sox, where he had some of his best years. Wherever he ends up, it will be up to the 34-year-old to prove he can still play in the majors.