INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- According to an industry source, outfielder Jason Bay -- who came to an agreement with the Mets on Wednesday to buy out the final year of his deal, with the Mets deferring some of the remaining money on his contract -- would be open to returning to the Red Sox as a free agent.
Bay, according to the source, has yet to talk to any teams about potential free-agent fits. His agreement with the Mets came about relatively quickly. However, while Bay went through a difficult negotiation with the Red Sox that preceded his free-agent defection after the 2009 campaign, he still views his time in Boston in a positive light.
Bay signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets after spending part of 2008 and all of 2009 with the Red Sox. In 2009, he hit .267 with a .384 OBP, .537 slugging mark and .921 OPS along with 36 homers and 119 RBI, finishing seventh in AL MVP balloting. However, a disagreement with the Sox about medical language related to his knee derailed negotiations on a four-year deal with the Sox.
That, in turn, set the stage for Bay to sign with the Mets. Though his knee was not an issue in New York, Bay struggled to stay on the field with the Mets, suffering a pair of concussions that contributed to his availability for an average of just 96 games per year in his three seasons. In that span, he hit .234 with a .318 OBP, .369 slugging mark and .687 OPS along with 26 homers in 1,125 plate appearances. In 70 games in 2012, Bay's struggles were particularly acute, as he hit just .165 with a .237 OBP and .299 slugging mark along with eight homers in 215 plate appearances.
However, one talent evaluator who saw Bay with the Mets suggested that the 34-year-old still can be a solid big league contibutor.
"I think no player needs a fresh start more than him. I actually don't think he is done," said the evaluator. "His problems [in New York] were more mental than physical."
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Alex Speier contributed to this report.