The Mets and Jason Bay have agreed to an early expiration of his contract, making him a free agent. The team announced the move in a press release. Joel Sherman of The New York Post reports (on Twitter) that Bay will receive all $21MM left on his contract, though some of it is being deferred. Bay is represented by Joe Urbon at CAA Sports.
"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," said Bay in a statement. "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."
Bay, 34, signed a four-year, $66MM contract with the Mets prior to 2010. He was still owed $16MM in 2013, a $3MM buyout of his 2014 club/vesting option, and $2MM worth of signing bonus money. All of that accounts for the $21MM, which will now be spread over several years rather than the next 12 months.
Sherman says that Bay will lose some present day value through the deferral, but now he can sign with a new team for more than the league minimum (all Twitter links). The union doesn't allow players to reduce the guaranteed portion of their contracts unless they get something equal in greater in return. The Mets would not have released Bay without the deferrals, which allow the team to spend more in 2013 according to Sherman (on Twitter).
Bay's three years in New York could not have gone any worse, as the outfielder battled injuries and hit just .234/.318/.369 with 26 homers in 1,125 plate appearances with the team. The year prior to joining the Mets, he finished seventh in the MVP voting and put up a .267/.384/.537 batting line with 36 homers for the Red Sox. Bay has hit .246/.355/.401 against left-handers over the last three years and figures to draw interest as a platoon outfielder/DH.