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The Education of Jason Bay

Posted By Howard Megdal On November 29, 2011 @ 9:15 am In Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

Just as Americans largely learn world geography based upon countries we invade, a useful byproduct of the terrible Jason Bay contract has been to educate Mets fans about the bad contracts around the league. Instead of coveting free agents like Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder-who, after all, would come without the tactical advantage of trading Jason Bay- Mets fans have instead spent nights dreaming of Carlos Zambrano, Vernon Wells and the reincarnated contract of Darren Dreifort.

So naturally, it caught my eye when I saw Buster Olney on Twitter [1] this morning say the the White Sox want to dump the salary of reliever Matt Thornton, owed $5.5 million in 2012, $5.5 million in 2013 and a $1 million buyout of a 2014 option. So that’s $12 million.

Thornton isn’t being shopped for ineffectiveness. His 2.8 walks per nine, 10.8 strikeouts per nine, and 2.90 ERA over the past three seasons would instantly make him the best reliever on the Mets by a wide margin.

The Jason Bay Trade Machine within all of us immediately went into overdrive, producing a Thornton/Jake Peavy for Bay deal. Peavy is owed $17 million in 2012, with a $4 million buyout of his 2013 option. So that’s a total of $33 million between Peavy and Thornton.

That isn’t far off from what Bay is owed- $16 million in 2012, $16 million in 2013, and a $3 million buyout of his 2014 option. (That option automatically vests if Bay collects 600 plate appearances in 2013, or 500 in both 2012 and 2013.)

But let’s assume for the moment that no team plays Bay that much. There’s another question: why would the White Sox make this deal?

I think the Mets would need to kick in a prospect or two to make it worth Chicago’s time. And that’s not a terrible idea, since Peavy and Thornton instantly makes the 2012 pitching staff better, while opening left field for Lucas Duda, a better defensive fit for him than right field.

Still, in terms of long-term building for the Mets, it means giving up a prospect or two for short-term help. It probably doesn’t add up.

That’s for the best, really. Now we all have an excuse to look up the contract terms of Alfonso Soriano. Jason Bay has made us all more knowledgeable baseball fans.

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[1] Buster Olney on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Buster_ESPN/status/141468778197303296

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