The New York Mets have finally made a splash this offseason and are bringing back a familiar face. Hello again, Jay Bruce!
He’s coming back! Jay Bruce and the New York Mets have agreed to a deal that will bring the slugger back to Flushing. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick was the first to report the news, while The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal broke the details of the deal.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 11, 2018
Finally, there’s a reason for excitement about the 2018 season. Bruce first came to New York from Cincinnati at the 2016 trade deadline, with the Mets sending infield prospect Dilson Herrera and left-handed pitcher Max Wotell to the Reds. Many Mets fans forget that Brandon Nimmo was in the original deal for Bruce. However, that deal fell through as there were concerns with at least one player’s physical.
Bruce failed to woo Mets fans in 2016, posting a weak .219/.294/.391 slash line with eight home runs, 19 RBI and a zero WAR in 50 games. While he didn’t contribute much, his presence helped the Mets go on a run to the playoffs.
When 2017 came around, the Mets saw a totally different player. Bruce slashed .256/.321/.520 with 29 HR, 75 RBI, and a 2.7 WAR in 103 games. But the Mets fell out of contention early and he was traded to Cleveland at last year’s trade deadline for minor league reliever Ryder Ryan.
It seemed as if the Indians stole candy from a baby in the deal as Ryan is a low-level prospect. But the Indians also agreed to take on the rest of Bruce’s contract, which made the return easier to swallow.
The Mets have been quiet this offseason, with signing reliever Anthony Swarzak, who should help bolster their bullpen, the team’s only other move.
The Mets are expected to be without Michael Conforto to start the season, so bringing Bruce back gives the team some insurance in the outfield—and should keep them from rushing their young star back.
No matter what you think about Bruce, the Mets got him at a bargain. When Conforto returns, having Yoenis Cespedes, Bruce and Conforto in the middle of the order will make the Mets lineup far more dangerous than many around baseball.
While this is great news, the Mets shouldn’t be satisfied just yet. They have more holes to fill and must do so if they want to truly compete in 2018. However, the signing of Jay Bruce brings a bit of relief to all Mets fans.