The Jason Bay experiment is over. With Mike Morse returning from his rehab assignment, the Mariners needed to free up a spot on the 25 man roster, and Bay is the casualty. This move also frees up a spot on the 40 man roster, so the next player added won't boot anybody off.
Mike Morse comes back after a five week absence, the result of a lingering quad injury that had him providing scattered and hobbled production in June. The Mariners waited around to put Morse on the disabled list, but Mike Morse is still Mike Morse, and took a predictably long time recovering.
As for Jason Bay, the Mariners got from him exactly what they could have hoped for. He couldn't hit righties, but he had sort-of ok production against LHP. A decent scenario for Seattle was that Bay could return to something he was before his awful 2012, and that's basically what he did, and it was better before his playing time became even more sporadic. Once Raul Ibanez went completely bonkers and dominated left field all to himself, Bay essentially became an afterthought in the outfield rotation of Ibanez, Ackley, Chavez, Saunders, and now Morse.
Not to get too speculative here, but this would indicate to me that the team intends to hold Mike Morse through the trade deadline. Otherwise, it seems like Endy Chavez would have been the one to get the axe, since his main asset is the ability to play center field, a position now fielded by both Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders.
Inevitably people will use this as a launching pad to talk about what could have been, so let's just nip it in the bud. Casper Wells hasn't done anything. Mike Carp was cast aside because they preferred Raul Ibanez in that role, not Bay. While there's a time and a place to talk about if that was a mistake, this isn't really it, even though you'll see a bunch of media talking about it as if it were a straight one for one decision.
This late career fade is all too familiar. Jason Bay was a nice story, local guy coming home, sort of. He's from Canada, but he went to Gonzaga, and that was close enough. His wife is from the area, and any sort of loose connection people can make to the PNW is enough for associative narratives and feel-good stories.
When I listened to Bay's interviews after he signed, I really wanted this to work out for him. He sounded optimistic but also realistic, and couldn't really explain what happened in New York. Everything also sounded like it had a sense of finality to it. A new start, but an aging veteran -- what would a repeat of New York do to his career? Bay seemed to know that he was lucky to have a shot with on a major league team.
I feel bad for Bay in a lot of ways. He got his money, but he lost his gift along the way. Bay used to be good. Players fight their whole careers for the big free agent payday, but the ensuing result is often disappointing, a result of free agency often occurring on the back end, or even after a player's prime years. Bay got paid when he was 32. Sometimes they fall apart, barely a shell of what they once were. You get the feeling that most would take the late career success over the money after things don't work out.
Jason Bay went from star to super rich, to bust to terrible, then to mediocre reclamation project in the span of four years. Baseball players have a longer career life than players in other sports, but Bay is a hard reminder that stardom is fleeting.