Mets Trade Rumor: Jason Bay To The Marlins For Heath Bell And John Buck

P90X "before" photo.

This "story" is a few days old now, but Ken Rosenthal relayed a trade deadline tidbit that the Mets and Marlins had very rudimentary discussions about a deal that would have sent Jason Bay to Miami in exchange for doughy closer Heath Bell and catcher John Buck. Rosenthal adds that the deal never left the preliminary stage, but considering how bad Bay's stint in New York has been, there's no harm in conjecturing about how this trade might've shaken out for both teams.

Bell is 34, will be 35 in September, and signed a contract with the Marlins this past offseason that looks like this:

2012: $9 million
2013: $9 million
2014: $9 million
2015: $9 million (team option; can become guaranteed based on performance)

This stupefying deal looked suspect at the time it was inked and looks even worse now that Bell has a 5.57 ERA and has walked nearly five batters every nine innings. Less significantly, but not unrelated, he has also lost his closer job on two separate occasions this season.

Buck, who turned 32 last month, has this contract, which he signed before the 2011 season:

2012: $6 million
2013: $6 million

Buck was an All-Star with Toronto in 2010, but he hit just .227/.316/.367 last year and is somehow hitting an even-worse .169/.286/.298 this year.

Bay we all know and love, but here's his remaining contract:

2012: $16 million
2013: $16 million
2014: $17 million (team option; $3 million buyout)

The 2014 option would become guaranteed with 600 plate appearances in 2013, but there's no realistic scenario where that would ever happen. Bay is hitting .160/.254/.296 this year and is hitting .239/.325/.375 since signing with the Mets before the 2010 season. I defended the contract at the time and I continue to root for him because I like him and I genuinely want him to succeed. With each passing day, a feel-good story for him in Queens becomes increasingly unlikely, though, and the Mets would presumably love to find him a new home if at all possible.

So why might the Mets have balked at this trade? The remaining salaries for 2012 are essentially a wash, but the Bell-Buck tandem is owed a minimum of $24 million beyond this year, while Bay is likely owed a maximum of $19 million. The Mets certainly aren't going to take on $5 million just to rid themselves of Bay while also absorbing two awful contracts in the same transaction, unless they thought the old "change of scenery" would benefit Bell or Buck or both.

While I don't expect this deal to be resurrected, all three players will clear waivers and would therefore be eligible for a post-waiver trade sometime in August. Stay tuned! (Or not.)

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