The Mets are still obligated to pay him the remaining $21 million he is owed, regardless of if he signs a new contract with a new team, though multiple reports indicate a portion of that money will be deferred over several years.
However, "The 2013 money saved is not significant," Mike Puma writes in today's New York Post, citing a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations. In addition, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal says, "The Mets gain a modicum of payroll flexibility for 2013."
According to an official who was negotiating with Bay at the same time as the Mets in 2009, Puma explains, "Bay did not want to play in New York and wound up taking the contract because it offered him the most money."
So, let's say the team frees up $1 to $3 million for 2013, that could let them better go after a guy like free-agent OF Melky Cabrera, assuming they're interested in him. Plus, if they can get David Wright to reduce his 2013 salary by building it in to a new deal, it could additionally open up more money...
This was easily the worst free-agent contract in the team's history, if not the worst. The crazy thing is, if I remember right, the Mets really wanted John Lackey to be their big free-agent signing, or 'big splash,' as people kept saying and obsessing over. However, the Mets (and every team not in Boston) insisted Lackey put language in his deal to protect them against his notoriously bad elbow. The Red Sox, pressured having watched the Yankees win a World Series the year before, caved, left that language out of the deal and used most of their off season budget getting a deal done. The Mets liked Matt Holliday more than Bay, but Bay's agent, Scott Boras, managed to get the Cardinals to bid against themselves on a seven-year deal, which the Mets were not interested in doing. So, the Mets essentially overpaid Bay to get a deal done, beating out the Mariners and Red Sox (and a mystery team)... and that was that.
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This is a huge pill to swallow. But it feels as though this is a major turning point for the Mets, and certainly a major statement on the part of the front office. It’s clear, based on what Sandy said in the statement, that sub-par performances are not acceptable, and the object is to get better beginning now. Simply put, anyone – be it a Major or Minor League player – was better than Bay and therefore providing greater value on the roster. They were basically playing with 24 players on the roster with him, and that alone was a handicap for them. It’s step one in a long process of getting better, and even though the Mets may not be getting immediate salary relief, they get roster relief.
I am speechless. “I am without speech,” as Elaine said. This is great news, even if he goes on to revitalize his career. These two sides have to move on, since it’s what is best for both parties. Bay needs a new team, a new situation and to put New York behind him… and the Mets needed to not have the pressure of playing him hanging over their heads. The reality is, he just wasn’t very good any more. Statistically speaking, he actually hurt the Mets in 2012 more than he helped them. To have a player like that on the roster was causing all sorts of obstacles…
Nov. 7, 7:18 pm: The total payout to Bay will be $21 million – his $16 million salary for 2013, his $3 million buyout for 2014, and the $2 million remaining on his original $8.5 million signing bonus, according to Newsday.
Nov. 7, 4:51 pm: In a post to Twitter, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com says that, according to a source, the money owed to Bay will not be deferred for a long period of time.
However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Mets did not save much on their 2013 – the move was more about moving on from a bad deal.
Nov. 7, 2:50 pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Mets will spread the remaining amount owed to Bay over the course of several years, and basically said in a separate tweet the Mets wouldn’t have agreed to this deal if it didn’t offer them flexibility to invest in the roster now.