After trade rumors not amounting to any action, Bruce may be headed towards starting 2017 with the Mets.
On Thursday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that it’s possible Jay Bruce might be in training camp with the team. This, after attempts to move him in the offseason, have not materialized for a few different reasons.
The market has taken a couple of different turns and the price other teams are willing to pay is not very appealing. Alderson didn’t pick up the $13 million option on Bruce to trade him away for what would amount to peanuts. Plus, Jose Bautista is still a free agent and who knows if Andrew McCutchen will be moved in the off-season.
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So, what are the ramifications if Bruce is indeed kept through camp and into Opening Day 2017?
The only thing we know for certain with the outfield is Yoenis Cespedes will be an every day starter. Who this most likely hurts is Michael Conforto — even though Bruce is not great against lefties, he and/or Curtis Granderson will still be favored offensively over Conforto (who is hitting .129 with one extra base hit in 68 at-bats vs. lefties) for the time being.
What Bruce being around could also do is limit the number of starts Juan Lagares obtains. Since Bruce and Cespedes would already occupy the corners, that kicks Granderson to center and leaves Lagares with most of his starts coming against lefties. Of course, an outfield of Cespedes, Granderson, and Bruce gives you a lot of home run potential but compromises defense.
Still through the muddled off-season, Alderson can’t be faulted for picking up Bruce’s option in the first place. The market just didn’t turn out as expected but that could change at the drop of a hat. At this point, it wouldn’t be wise to basically sell off Bruce for what would be a very minimal return. Especially since the Mets aren’t likely to cover a significant portion of Bruce’s salary to any potential suitors.
There are ways this could still work out for both sides. Bruce is a free agent next season so a big year could help him cash in during the off-season. Yes, he’s not a great hitter for average but Bruce has averaged 27 homers a season. It’s also possible he becomes a trade deadline candidate as a “rental” for a team that maybe becomes desperate for a playoff push and looks to add some pop from the left side.
Circumstances can change instantly in the off-season as we all know. For right now, be prepared for Bruce to at least be with the Mets in camp as Alderson noted Thursday unless something drastically changes. Anything beyond as far as how long he’ll still be in a Mets uniform is anyone’s guess.