According to Jon Heyman at CBS, it looks like the Mets have deferred $15 million of the $21 million owed to Jason Bay. For the purposes of this year's budget, the outfielder will only cost six million dollars, and with the purse strings tight, that wiggle room may allow the team some needed flexibility going into discussions with free agents.
The player still benefits. The team has to pay the full $21 million by the end of 2015, so he only loses about $850 thousand in present-day value with the deferment. And, according to Heyman, there was no offset clause, meaning Bay can make that money back -- and possibly more -- if he signs another deal this offseason. The offset clause holds that the team would not have to pay the released player whatever salary he managed to receive from another club.
With Bay likely to hover around replacement-level value on the field, changing his $18 million dollar budget number into a $6 million number has usefulness beyond just an extra 25-man (or 40-man) roster spot. The combination of a young player coming up, and a decent free agent acquisition made possible by these savings -- that combo is likely to produce more than Jason Bay was going to. And he gets the sought-after 'fresh start' that is more legend than reality.
So that's your number for the AAOP! The full roster number that I'm working with is currently $81 million. That's $56 million in current contracts, $9 million or so in projected arbitration raises (not counting Andres Torres, Mike Pelfrey or Manny Acosta), $500 thousand each for the remaining 25-man roster spots, and $6 million for Bay. So where do you go from there?