Ken Rosenthal released an interesting article yesterday, talking about some of the most intriguing trades that didn’t come to fruition before the 4pm trade deadline Tuesday afternoon. Surprisingly enough, there was a team that had an interest in Jason Bay. Wait, what? Yes, you read that right, Jason Bay (.162/.250/.308) was involved in some trade talks. Sounds too good to be true, right? Which team would succumb themselves to such punishment? Obviously, it’s the Miami Marlins, looking to shed as much payroll as possible during their disappointing 2012 campaign.
So, who were the Marlins rumored to offer up in this potential swap with the Mets? It was none other than former Met Heath Bell and John Buck. What, you thought Bay would command more of a return? Bell, who signed a three-year/$27 million contract with Miami over the winter, is having a horrifying year for Miami. A year removed from a 43-save season and 2.44 ERA, Bell is 2-5 with a 5.66 ERA, and a 1.65 WHIP. The last time he finished a season with an ERA above 5.00 was in 2006 with, you guessed it, the Mets. The reliever has been pretty vocal over the years about how he didn’t really enjoy his time in Flushing, so it would be hard to think that he would actually welcome a trade back to New York, but at this point, I’m sure he would take just about anything to get a fresh start.
As for John Buck, he’s not exactly having a career year either, hitting .168/.287/.295 in 2012. However, he is a right-handed hitting catcher who could back up Josh Thole, and in 244 at-bats, he’s hit eight homers, six more than Thole, Mike Nickeas, and Rob Johnson combined. This is despite the fact that the power(less) trio has had approximately 100 more at-bats than Buck.
The main idea behind this deal would be to change the scenery for these three players, hoping that a change in background will help reinvigorate their careers. Even though the two sides didn’t come close to a deal before the deadline, Rosenthal said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets and Marlins restart talks once these players clear waivers, which he is certain would happen. What makes it more intriguing is that the compensation for the players would match up nicely as well. Buck will become a free agent after 2013 and Bell after 2014, whereas Bay’s contract would run out after next season as well, especially since it’s doubtful he will get 600 at-bats for his option to kick in for 2014 (and definitely not if he’s still in New York). The Mets would owe a few more million to Bell and Buck, but that’s a win considering the only other option would be to cut Bay and eat his contract.
This is developing into quite an interesting story, and Sandy Alderson could possibly get exactly the kinds of players he wants, for his price. Scott Hairston wasn’t traded because retaining him until the end of the season keeps the Mets competitive, but unloading Bay would have no bearing on that. In fact, New York could become a more competitive team if they take him off the roster. Adding Heath Bell and John Buck to the roster would satisfy the team’s two greatest needs: adding an arm to the bullpen and getting a right-handed backup catcher with some power. Adding to that, they’re getting them at an extremely low price, and this MLB talent is under team control through at least 2013.
It’s only a matter of time before Kirk Nieuwenhuis and/or Lucas Duda make their way back to the Big League roster from Triple-A, and unless Bay wakes up out of his three-year slumber, he should finally be the odd man out. It’s been puzzling to watch these two outfielders, who contributed to so much of the team’s first half success, take a seat to watch Bay look helpless night in and night out at the plate. It’s understandable that baseball is a business and Jason is getting a hefty paycheck, but he’s clearly been more of a detriment than an asset.
If all three of these players clear waivers and these discussions restart, one would hope that the two sides can agree on a deal sooner rather than later, coinciding with Bay waiving his no-trade clause. Saying that Bay has fallen out of favor in New York is the understatement of the century, and finding any suitor that is willing to take on his contract is an absolute blessing.