Mets officials confirm that they had initial talks about a trade to send Jason Bay to the Marlins in exchange for Heath Bell and catcher John Buck just before the trade deadline. The officials say the talks never reached a stage where they would be considered serious. But would such a trade make sense for the Mets?
Let’s take a look at the financial impact such a trade might have, because let’s face it, this is all about money.
Bay is owed about $27 million through next season — around $6 million for the remainder of this season, $18 million for 2013 and a $3 million buyout.
Bell’s tally comes to $21 million — about a million left this year and $20 million through 2014.
Buck is owed around $7.5 — also about a million for this season and $6.5 million next year.
So that comes to a combined $28.5 million for Bell and Buck as opposed to $27 million for Bay, so it appears the Mets would be financial losers in this deal.
However, it is no secret that they Mets want to add an experienced catcher for 2013 and they will need a veteran bullpen arm as well. Let’s say the Mets keep Bay and spend $2 million for each of those players; that comes out to $31 million. If the Mets trade Bay they have several low-cost, $500,000 options (Lucas Duda, Jordany Valdespin) to replace him, bringing the total of Bell, Buck and the replacement to $29 million.
So the Mets could save $2 million if they did the deal. They would also get rid of Bay, who has not provided any evidence that he is ready to turn things around.
The Mets would definitely be taking some risk. Bell has been a flop after signing his big contract, going 2-5 with a 5.57 ERA and six blown saves. He has lost his closer job to some guy named Cishek.
John Buck is no prize, either. He’s hitting just .171 this season, but he does have eight homers and 26 RBIs. Josh Thole has all of one home run and 14 RBIs. The recently departed Mike Nickeas also had one homer and 13 RBIs.
I liked Bell when he was on the Mets and he performed very well for the Padres, but at 34, is he done? He also despises the Mets, claiming he never got a fair chance here. I really don’t know much about Buck, but he does have some right handed punch at the plate, which the Mets desperately need.
There is something to be said for just releasing Bay when the season is over and taking the salary hit for the year. Why trade one underachieving player with a bad contract for two such players?
The one advantage for doing this trade is that if Bell does turn things around, he would be tradable, and thus the Mets can get out from under some of the money.
I think I would take the gamble and make this trade. It does fill a couple of glaring holes on the club and perhaps most importantly, sends Bay far, far away from Flushing.