Jay Bruce is heading to the New York Yankees on a minor league deal, giving the team left-handed power and outfield depth.
Jay Bruce deal with Yankees is minors deal with MLB spring invite @Ken_Rosenthal 1st
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 13, 2021
And obviously, some Yankee fans began to freak out about whether or not the team was still pursuing Brett Gardner.
BUT GARDY https://t.co/mDIyH4zlya
— Allison Case (@ThatNYYChick) February 13, 2021
But fear not Allison, there is still plenty of time for the Yankees-Gardner reunion. Bruce is an excellent depth piece but he’s just that, depth. The Yankees have a much more important need than a lefty power hitter. This team has no problem with average exit velocity as it stands.
They need a reliable defensive center fielder. As it stands, Mike Tauchman would take over the center field duties should Aaron Hicks go down with injury. But that doesn’t leave a lot of defensive options should another outfielder go down.
Bruce is a nice addition to the system. And there’s a good chance he’ll find an opportunity to contribute to the big league club. But his offense isn’t what it used to be and he leaves a lot to be desired defensively. He struggled across two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, posting a sub-90 OPS+ in 83 games.
Gardner brings more than a pesky at bat and a good glove. He’s the longest tenured Yankee on the team and the leader of the clubhouse. The Yankees should bring him back as an extra outfielder.
But they shouldn’t expect much out of Bruce at this point in his career. At best, he finds a role as a bench player, hitting only against right-handed pitching. At worst, he spends the year in triple-A waiting for the Yankees to need his specific skill set.
Bruce is a nice depth piece, but he likely won’t play a major role for the 2021 Yankees.