Jason Bay Relegated to Platoon Role with Mets

New York Mets News

Bay’s inability to remain healthy has contributed to his struggles with the Mets ( Photo by mrzeising flickr)

Meet Jason Bay, one of the most expensive platoon players in Major League history.

According to manager Terry Collins,  the Mets’ $66 million man will take a seat on the bench against most right-handed pitchers, allowing left-handed hitters Jordany Valdespin and Mike Baxter more playing time.

The decision is understandable considering that the 33-year-old Bay is batting .157 with five home runs, 11 RBI, a .248 on-base percentage and a .284 slugging percentage in 134 at-bats.

Bay’s inability to remain healthy has contributed to his struggles with the Mets. Plagued with a myriad of injuries during his tenure in New York, Bay has 23 homers in 259 games with the club. In 2009, he slugged 36 home runs in 151 games for the Red Sox and parlayed that performance into his current four-year, $66 million deal.

Bay is under contract for $16 million a season through 2013 with a $17 million option for 2014 that is guaranteed if he gets 600 plate appearances in 2013 or 500 plate appearances in 2012 and 2013. If the Mets parted ways with Bay after the season, they would likely have to pay the full $19 million left in his deal. He also has a $3 million buyout if his 2014 option is not picked up.

Though the right-handed hitting native of Canada could seemingly benefit from retirement or at least a change of scenery, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told ESPN New York that the team does not intend to eat Bay’s remaining contract.

Bay’s rapid decline is startling. Originally a 22nd round draft pick out of Gonzaga University by the Montreal Expos in 2000, Bay was dealt to the Mets in 2002 when he was a minor leaguer and later that season was traded to San Diego, where he made his Major League debut with 10 at-bats in 2003. A highly regarded prospect at that point, Bay was dealt yet again at the deadline in 2003, going to Pittsburgh in a transaction that brought Brian Giles to the Padres.

With the Pirates, Bay was named National League Rookie of the Year in 2004 when he hit .282 with 26 home runs and 82 RBI. He was an All-Star the following two seasons, collecting 32 home runs and 101 RBI in 2005 and 35 home runs and 109 RBI in 2006.

From 2003 to 2009, he belted 201 home runs for the Pirates and Red Sox. Bay was a central figure in the three-way trade at the deadline in 2008 that saw Manny Ramirez shipped to the Dodgers and Bay to Boston. With the Red Sox, the affable Bay became a key part of a team that reached the American League Championship Series, losing in seven games to Tampa Bay.

In 2009, Bay had 36 home runs and 119 RBI to accompany a .267 average and a  .921 OPS. In the off-season, he became a free agent, and the Red Sox opted not to offer an expensive long-term deal to a player on the north side of 30. The Mets did, and Bay’s best season in Queens was 2011, when he tallied 12 home runs and 57 RBI in 444 at-bats.

Though he is drawing boobirds and catcalls in New York, Bay remains accountable to the media and apologetic about his performance. Long known as a positive clubhouse presence, perhaps the soon-to-be 34-year-old would be ideal as the DH for a hitting-starved team like Tampa Bay, Oakland or Seattle.

Bay would be a cheap acquisition for those teams, but not, of course, for the Mets.

New York Mets News – Mets transferred RHP Dillon Gee from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.  Johan Santana allowed a walk and a single, striking out three over three scoreless innings in a rehab outing for Class-A Brooklyn and  is scheduled to return to the Mets’ rotation Saturday against the Braves.

 


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