Jay Bruce has been traded twice by two different in salary dumps. He winds up with the powerhouse Indians and is now a free agent. Amazing!
According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, Jay Bruce is in the crosshairs of the New York Mets as a free agent signee for 2018 and beyond. The feeling appears to be mutual. Considering Bruce’s career in baseball, this has to make him the luckiest man in baseball.
The Mets are open to the idea of Jay Bruce if they can get him on a three-year deal. He is seeking five years.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) December 1, 2017
Bruce spent more than eight years in the big leagues before he was released from purgatory by the Cincinnati Reds in a 2016 trade sending the slugger to the New York Mets. For the Reds, the trade amounted to what is typically known in baseball as a salary dump.
Although the arrival of Bruce in New York was widely hailed as a means of providing the Mets with a one-two punch in their lineup, with Bruce joining Yoenis Cespedes in the middle of their lineup, it didn’t entirely turn out that way.
Almost immediately though, Cespedes went on the DL with a strained right quadriceps which the Mets traced back to an ill-timed golf outing he enjoyed before the All-Star break. Effectively, Bruce was shoved into the role as the team’s primary power guy, and the results were hardly encouraging. In 50 games with the Mets, Bruce managed to hit .219 with only eight home runs and 19 RBI, causing many to wonder if Bruce was made of the right stuff to play in New York.
The Mets remained patient with Bruce, though, despite ongoing encouragement from the team’s fan base and media to dump him in a trade at this time last year. As luck would have it, Jay Bruce found his stroke again in 2017, as he zoomed off to a season that would end with 36 home runs and 101 RBI.
Jay Bruce dumped again
The only trouble was the Mets didn’t follow Bruce and their season headed downhill almost from the start. Cespedes continued with his on-days and off-days, and the team once again was hit like a ton of bricks with a rash of injuries, so that by the time the trade deadline rolled around, the Mets had no choice but to cash in their chips for the season.
Bruce was included in the Mets version of a salary dump when he was sent to the Cleveland Indians for someone named Ryder Ryan. Fan favorite Curtis Granderson was unloaded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lucas Duda went to the Tampa Bay Rays, with Neil Walker and Addison Reed included in other deals made by Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.
Add up the money saved by the Mets and it totals about $8 million, which Alderson told reporters wasn’t necessarily earmarked for the 2018 season, per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo.
Alderson says the roughly $9 million the Mets saved via trades is not "earmarked" for next season. But he believes payroll will be flexible.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 16, 2017
Later, DiComo would report Alderson as saying “he was never told to dump salary,” but what’s the difference when it’s clear to everyone with half a brain knew that’s exactly what he was doing?
Of the players involved, the impact was immediate and decisive only on Bruce. In just 43 games with the Indians, Bruce was able to pad his free agent credentials with seven home runs and 26 RBI.
Fast forward to today. According to Newsday‘s Marc Carig, Bruce’s time in Cleveland could be part of the reason the Mets are once again interested in his services.
“Bruce developed a friendly relationship with Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, who was hired as the Mets’ manager.”
As for the difference in the five years that Bruce is reportedly seeking and the Mets’ preference for a three-year deal, this seems like a good time for both sides to just split the difference and agree on a four-year pact.
Mets: Stop pussy-footing around
Here’s the kicker, though. If the Mets have Bruce in their crosshairs as a priority signing this winter, the organization needs to close the deal now. Sandy Alderson, especially, has a proven reputation for pussy-footing around, weighing all the angles, just to be “sure” he’s doing the right thing.
To be fair, the Mets, based on what they received in return last season, are probably still stung by the leap to Cespedes as the “big signing” last year. But that’s baseball. Except it seems the Mets have never learned that you win some and you lose some, and you never can tell. But at the same time, an organization needs to keep moving forward.
At the moment, it’s Bruce. But if the Mets, for example, change their mind and decide it’s J.D. Martinez or Player X, then all energy needs to be devoted to that player with an “all in” approach.
Jay Bruce apparently left the Mets on good terms. He is open to a deal that brings him back to New York. The Mets need his power bat in a diluted lineup they will present in 2018. What’s not to like?
The Mets gave Cespedes four years and $110 million. Bruce is not looking for anything near that. Only 30 years old, Bruce, even at five years is more likely than Cespedes to earn his keep.
The only left for the Mets to do is just to do it if they have Bruce in their sights. Go on the attack and grab Bruce while the grabbing’s good. I don’t get it. Is that so hard?