The New York Mets could actually benefit from keeping star outfielder Jay Bruce instead of trading him like many have anticipated.
At this point last season, the rumors of the New York Mets acquiring Jay Bruce were plentiful. Fast forward six weeks and half of Queens was ready to personally ship him out of town.
Now, Bruce has established himself in the orange and blue and many fans don’t want to see him go. Baseball is a business and the chances Bruce could be dealt are legitimate. However, there’s actually a possibility that despite the Mets taking the role of sellers, Bruce could actually stay in New York.
Source: Mets getting interest in Reed, Cabrera and even Duda. Not much on Bruce or Granderson.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 24, 2017
Bruce is having what could be a career best season but still could be kept. His best attribute is his power which is something that has skyrocketed amongst Major League Baseball. So, his best feature isn’t in the highest of demand. He’s not much of a speed demon or defensive wiz, so it makes sense why Bruce’s market is fairly limited. Still, a middle of the order could be of value to a contender, though it’s unclear whether the Mets would be able to retain significant value if Bruce were to be dealt.
Let’s take a look at a few reasons why keeping Bruce could actually be more advantageous than trading him.
1. Limited Prospect Value
Although Bruce has been magnificent at the plate this season, he still might not be able to return any legitimate impact prospects. Like we mentioned earlier, his best asset isn’t in demand and his expiring contract limits his value. Although the Mets have made it known they would eat some of his remaining salary, they still might not be able to return a significant prospect or two given the market for a power hitting corner outfielder.
For example, the Detroit Tigers recently shipped outfielder J.D. Martinez to Arizona, who essentially is a right handed Bruce–above average bat, poor defense and minimal speed. They received three prospects, the best-being infielder Dawel Lugo, who is not a consensus top 100 prospect and might not even rank as one of Detroit’s ten best.
If that type of return is the best the Mets will receive, they might be better off holding onto Bruce, issuing him a qualifying offer and acquiring draft pick compensation. The front office may deem that the player they draft will hold more value than any prospect they receive.
2. The Season Isn’t Over
Okay, so the Mets chances of making the playoffs in 2017 are minimal. However, nothing has been decided yet. August and September have been kind to the Mets over the past two years and they’ve been playing better baseball in the second half thus far in 2017, be it a small sample size.
What if the Mets got hot? What if their long list of players on the disabled list came back for a late season run? If by some chance the Mets right the ship, you can be sure Bruce’s bat will have a large part in steering it towards the right direction.
3. Reloading Not Rebuilding in 2018
Jay Bruce (theoretically) gets issued a qualifying offer and chooses to accept. While his strong season has positioned himself well for free agency, Bruce may take the one-year pact next season.
Josh Reddick, who has a similar career WAR to Bruce (20.9 vs 18), got four years and $60 million from Houston last year, an AAV of $15 million. ESPN’s Buster Onley reports the QO for next season could be in the neighborhood of $18 million, meaning Bruce could play next season at $3 million above his market value.
Teams have been told that at the qualifying offer to free agents this offseason will be in the $18 million range, maybe $18.1 million.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 20, 2017
Michael Conforto may not be the long term answer in center field, but he’s displayed enough athleticism to man the position for another season which would allow Bruce to return to his natural right field. The Mets have a ton of money coming off the books after the season, which would easily allow them to pay Bruce $18 million in 2018.
Sometimes, the best trades are the ones you don’t make.