Jason Bay and the Mets Part Ways: What This Means for the Future of the Outfield

Alex OttContributor INovember 7, 2012

The all-too familiar sight of Jason Bay walking back to the dugout after a strikeout.
The all-too familiar sight of Jason Bay walking back to the dugout after a strikeout.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Wake up, Mets fans. 

The Jason Bay nightmare that began in 2010 is finally over, a year earlier than expected. 

As Joel Sherman first reported, the Mets and Jason Bay have officially announced their split, which makes Bay an unrestricted free agent. He will receive all of the $21 million he is owed by the Mets. 

After signing a four-year, $66 million contract prior to 2010, Bay batted a lowly .244 with 26 total home runs over three injury- and slump-tainted years. In 2012, his last season with the Mets, Bay batted a mere .165 with eight home runs. His 32 hits in 2012 were four less than his 2009 home run total in Boston.

Afterwards, Bay released this statement, "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."

Just as they did with the contracts of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, the Mets are throwing away $21 million on Bay, a player that will never have another at-bat for the team.

But on the bright side, the early expiration of the contract means that the Mets can defer the payments over the next few years instead of paying Bay all the money at once.  This is good news for Mets fans because it frees up at least a couple million dollars to spend in the free agent-market this winter.

But where will they spend it?

Bay is gone, Andres Torres should not be re-signed, and Scott Hairston is a free agent. Lucas Duda broke his wrist moving furniture, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who struggled after his first month in The Show, is recovering from an injury and Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin both seem like much better pinch-hitters than starting outfielders. 

Down on the farm, Matt Den Dekker and Brandon Nimmo will be major components of the big league team in the future but are far from ready to be everyday Major League starters.

With all three outfield positions available, the Mets have more question marks than ever before.

Lucas Duda, if healthy, will presumably start in one of the corner outfield positions, but no one else on the 40-man roster seems like a viable everyday option. Scott Hairston is a relatively inexpensive option if the Mets choose to re-sign him, but he may want to head to a hitter's ballpark where he is guaranteed to play everyday.

Josh Hamilton is the biggest free agent, but there is no chance the Mets can afford him.

More realistic options include Melky Cabrera, Ryan Ludwick, Michael Bourn or Reed Johnson. They could also bring back Angel Pagan from San Francisco.

An unlikely move that should be considered more in-depth is signing a veteran outfielder like Torii Hunter or Ichiro that still have one or two productive years left. They could still help the team and serve as mentors to the young outfielders who will replace them in a few years.

The Mets still need bullpen help, and one (somewhat) legitimate outfielder on the roster is far from a winning formula.  

It's your move, Sandy Alderson.

He proved he was not afraid to get rid of an underperforming player, but is he man enough to spend on players that can get the job done? 

New York is ready for the Mets to be relevant again. Is the front office?