Sports

Mets Say ‘Bye’ To Bay

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Jason Bay, David Ross

By RONALD BLUM,  AP Sports Writer

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) _ Jason Bay and the New York Mets
ended their unproductive relationship after three miserable seasons
when they agreed Wednesday to terminate the outfielder’s contract
with one guaranteed season remaining.

The deal makes the 34-year-old a free agent and allows the team
to spread out the remaining $21 million it owes him.

“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 team.

After signing a $66 million, four-year deal before the 2010
season, the three-time All-Star hit .234 in three injury-plagued
seasons with 26 homers and 124 RBIs, including a .165 average with
eight homers and 20 RBIs this year. Sidelined by concussions and
rib injuries, he played just 288 games for the Mets.

“I’m grateful we were able to reach an agreement to allow that
to happen,” Bay said. “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 was owed $16 million for next season and a $3 million buyout
of a 2014 option, plus the final $2 million installment of his $8.5
million signing bonus was payable by next June. The agreement
allows the Mets to spread out the payments, a person familiar with
the agreement said, speaking on condition of anonymity because that
detail was not announced.

“Jason has a tremendous work ethic. There was never any
question about it,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said.
“Unfortunately, the results weren’t there, and we are in a
results-oriented business.”

An All-Star in 2005, 2006 and 2009, Bay signed with the Mets
after hitting .267 in his final season for Boston with career bests
of 36 homers and 119 RBIs.

“Jason is a great teammate, hard worker, standup guy, and true
gentleman,” Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said. “Like
Jason, we had planned for the kind of production here that he
enjoyed in Boston and Pittsburgh, where he established himself as
one of the game’s top players.”

Bay missed the final two months of the 2010 season because of a
concussion sustained while slamming into the left-field fence to
make a catch at Dodger Stadium. He was out for the first three
weeks of 2011 with a strained ribcage. This year he was on the
disabled list from late April until early June because of a broken
rib, then missed another month with a concussion when he crashed
into the wall at Citi Field while trying to catch an
inside-the-park homer by Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce.

“There’s not a player who tried harder to succeed or was more
frustrated and disappointed than Jason himself,” Mets manager
Terry Collins said. “I’ll miss Jason’s presence in the clubhouse
as a player, teammate, and person.”

Bay joins the exodus of big-name players from the Mets, who have
finished fourth in the NL East for four straight years. Carlos
Beltran, Jose Reyes and Francisco Rodriguez left a year ago.
New York hopes to negotiate long-term deals with third baseman
David Wright and pitcher R.A. Dickey, who both can become free
agents after the 2013 season.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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