INDIAN WELLS, Calif.—Like most marriages, the union between the Mets and Jason Bay began with a celebration. Team officials feted him at a crowded news conference at Citi Field. They toasted him over dinner at a ritzy Manhattan restaurant.
And like most divorces, this one was completed with far less fanfare. After three dismal years together, the two sides quietly negotiated an early end to the four-year, $66 million contract Bay signed in January 2010. A statement emailed to reporters Wednesday made it official: Bay's tenure in Flushing is over.
Bay gets the $21 million remaining on his deal after agreeing to defer some of that money for "a short period of time," according to a person with direct knowledge of the arrangement. The Mets gain a modicum of payroll flexibility for 2013. And both sides get what they needed most: a clean break and a fresh start.
The Mets have been constrained in recent years in large part by two onerous contracts. One belongs to Johan Santana, who is still owed an additional $31 million. The other belonged to Bay.
Cutting ties with Bay now does not free the Mets of their financial commitment. But it allows them to move on from one of the worst free-agent signings in team history.