There have been a lot of free-agent flops over the years.
The news that the Mets have parted ways with Jason Bay after three years of miserable offense, injuries and bad feelings raised a question. Has there ever been a flop that flopped more immediately than Bay?
If you remember back to the time between the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Bay was the kind of power-hitting left fielder that then-general manager Omar Minaya decided the team needed at Citi Field and Minaya was willing to do whatever it took to get a guy who reportedly took a dim view of playing in Queens. Money, in the form of a four-year deal worth $66 million plus a vesting option for a fifth year, wound up winning the day and Bay's rumored feelings meant the signing was met with about as much enthusiasm as a colonoscopy.
Things then went downhill. For his three years, Bay played in 288 games (two serious concussions didn't help things) and posted a 687 OPS with 26 home runs.
The numbers only hint at the way Bay became one of the poster children for the way the Mets went off track, especially as Madoff-related money constraints made the Bay albatross seem even bigger than it would under more robust financial circumstances. His 215 plate appearances in 2012 felt like a cruel taunt to a fan base that had already been through so much.
Eliminating the prospect of any more is enough to give this move a V-J Day in Times Square kind of response and it is absolutely the right way for the team to move toward 2013. Bay had no business playing over just about any other option and it does the brand no good to have a player whose presence does nothing other than infuriate its customers.
According to Joel Sherman of the Post, the Mets will pay off all the money remaining on Bay's deal, but the payments will be deferred in order to free up some cash for them in the short term. Sandy Alderson certainly needs to find some outfielders -- Lucas Duda broke his wrist moving furniture, but is expected to be ready by spring training -- and a little extra cash couldn't hurt in that pursuit.
Alderson is also helped by the fact that he could start Butch Huskey and people would be happier to see him in left than Bay. It will take more than earning the goodwill of fans to get the Mets where they need to go, but it's not a bad way to start down the road.