With the trade market appearing minimal for Jay Bruce following the Winter Meetings, the New York Mets would be wise to be patient.
With the New York Mets re-signing Yoenis Cespedes recently on a four-year deal, the team finds themselves with a surplus of corner outfielders. Early indications were the Mets were willing to part with either Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce in order to thin out a crowded outfield and obtain some help in the bullpen.
— The Undetermined (@theudnetwork) December 6, 2016
But as the Winter Meetings took place, the Mets went backwards on their original calling that Granderson was available, and focused their efforts on moving Bruce, who struggled after his trade to New York.
In 50 games with the Mets, Bruce hit .219 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. However, before Bruce made the move to the Big Apple, he was actually the National League leader in RBIs.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles have both shown interest in Bruce, but the return has been far less than what the New York Mets were hoping for.
General manager Sandy Alderson would be wise to be patient with Bruce’s suitors. As the free agent market for outfielders begins to thin out, he should yield a larger return when he becomes the best option available. With many of the big free agent outfielders like Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond, and Carlos Gomez off the table, the return for Jay Bruce may take a turn for the better moving forward.
The lack of trade interest for Bruce even with the bigger names still available is quite puzzling though. A power hitting left-hander is usually in high demand, and Bruce, 29, has averaged 31 home runs and 94 RBI over the course of his major league career.
At $13 million next season, Bruce isn’t overly expensive with the contracts that are being handed out this year. The three-time All Star also sports a .983 fielding percentage, which is only .001 less than the NL average in right field last season (Bruce’s fielding percentage was .988 with the Mets).
Jose Bautista is still available via free agency for teams looking to add a power bat to their lineup. Fact is, however, that Bruce’s numbers were superior to Bautista’s last season, and with the qualifying offer extended to him by the Blue Jays, signing him will cost potential teams their first unprotected draft pick. Bruce can also yield a longer return, as he’s only 29-years-old as opposed to Joey Bats who is 36.
Patience is a virtue, so Alderson and Mets brass would be wise to be patient, and let the market for Bruce expand, as it should. The further time goes on, the more desperate teams such as the Blue Jays, Orioles, and even the San Francisco Giants will become.