Comparing Jay Bruce to Carlos Gomez

Jay BruceThe latest rumors have the Mets and Reds talking about a Jay Bruce trade. Bruce does not play center field, does not bat righty and has a bigger contract than Carlos Gomez. He may not have been the Mets’ first choice but he may end up being the better player for the club to acquire.

If there’s one thing we can say for certain, it’s that Mets fans have little faith in the team’s medical staff. That’s what leading the National League in most days lost to the DL over the last 15 years will do for your reputation. So, let’s say there’s nothing inherently wrong with Gomez. Since another team traded for him, it’s not an outlandish idea.

How do Bruce and Gomez stack up?

After five forgettable seasons in the majors, Gomez started to put it all together in 2012 at age 26. That year he topped a .700 OPS for the first time, with a .260/.305/.463 slash line. He did even better the following year, posting an .843 OPS, winning the Gold Glove Award and making the All-Star team. Last year was a similar season and this year he’s fallen off considerably.

Gomez’ 2015 resembles his 2012 season, good but not great. He has a .751 OPS and a .162 ISO. Those are nice numbers for a CF but it’s a drop of 92 points of OPS and 60 points of ISO from just two years ago. And after he notched 40 SB in 2013, he has just seven so far this year, with two-thirds of the season already having been played.

Meanwhile, Bruce is having a bounce-back season this year at age 28, a year younger than Gomez. After four straight seasons with an OPS over .800, Bruce fell to a .654 mark in 2014. This year he checks in with an .827 OPS, with a healthy .229 ISO. He’s got a career-high BB% (11.2) and his K% (21.4) is his lowest since 2009. Additionally, he’s showing almost no lefty-righty split. Bruce has an .832 OPS vs. RHP and an .813 mark versus southpaws.

From a strictly offensive point of view, Bruce holds a 76-point edge in OPS and a 67-point edge in ISO.

The concern is that Bruce is a product of his home park. In Great American Ball Park, Bruce has an .887 OPS and in road games, that mark falls to .771, a drop of 116 points. Meanwhile, Gomez has a .763/.741 home/road split. Yet if you look at Gomez’ big seasons in 2013 and 2014, you notice the same big home/road splits that Bruce has. Both of those seasons, Gomez had a home OPS in the .900s and a road OPS in the .700s. It seems odd to hold Bruce’s ability to continue to succeed in his home park against him.

But the biggest reason to prefer Gomez continues to be his ability to play center field. There’s no doubt that Gomez holds an edge over Bruce in this department. But, he’s gone from an all-world center fielder to one who is just above average. Gomez has retreated from a 24.4 UZR in 2013 to a 5.8 mark last year and this season he sits with a 0.7 UZR.

Bruce had a 10.2 UZR in right field in 2013, posted a (-6.1) mark last year and currently sits with a 2.1 mark here in 2015. It’s harder to play CF than it is to play RF, no one is debating that. Yet today, Bruce is a better RF than Gomez is a CF and that holds true whether you look at UZR or DRS. By the latter system, Bruce holds a 5-run edge in 2015.

For whatever reason, Gomez is not hitting for power or running as well as he did the past two seasons. Defensively, we’ve seen this movie already with Juan Lagares in CF. He’s not the player in 2015 that he was the past two seasons. Yet he’s still better than Gomez right now. Lagares has a 4.5 UZR and a 4 DRS so far in 2014.

The assumption has been that the Mets wanted a CF to allow Lagares a chance to go on the DL and heal, so it makes sense to get a CF. But in Curtis Granderson, the Mets have a player who can handle CF, even if nowhere near as good as what we’ve become accustomed to with Lagares the past few years.

FanGraphs has the difference in run values between CF (+2.5) and RF (-7.5) as being 10 runs. Granderson has a 10.6 UZR/150 in RF this year. If he were to switch to CF, we might expect him to lose 10 runs, or be essentially a league-average player in center. Gomez has a 2.0 UZR/150. The dropoff between Gomez and Granderson is not much by this back-of-the-envelope calculation. Just to be safe, let’s triple it and say the difference between the two would be six runs over a full season.

Bruce has a 13.0 wRAA, compared to a 4.7 mark for Gomez. If you add the offensive and defensive numbers together, Bruce comes out being the better acquisition.

Perhaps Gomez heals in the offseason and comes back in 2016 as the guy he was in 2013. But that ignores the fact that in 2015, he’s inferior to Bruce. The Mets need a CF primarily for 2015, because the hope is that Lagares heals this offseason, as well. And let’s face it, if both Gomez and Lagares are completely healthy, Lagares is playing CF.

The bottom line is that Bruce has a longer track record of success in the majors and is performing better right now. And while it’s not much of an edge, he’s a year younger, too. We’ve seen Bruce bounce back from a disappointing season and get back to his previous offensive level. It remains to be seen if Gomez can do the same thing.

If money is truly no object for the Mets right now, we should be glad that there’s a potential consolation prize in Bruce better than the initial object of affection. Bruce is owed $12.5 million next year and has a $13 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2017.

28 comments for “Comparing Jay Bruce to Carlos Gomez

  1. Metsense
    July 31, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Wheeler has 4 1/2 years of control but subtract 1 year for recovery time.
    Gomez has 1 1/2 years of control.
    Bruce has 2 1/2 years when the team option is excercised.
    One more year of 800+ OPS is pretty valuable and moving Granny to LF is an added plus.

    • July 31, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Then what happens to Conforto?

      • Chris F
        July 31, 2015 at 2:53 pm

        He slows the torrid pace a little and learns RF as well.

  2. Eraff
    July 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Useful Talent for 2015…Trade-able after???

    • July 31, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      Among qualified OF, Bruce ranks 15th in OPS. Since there are 60 corner OF slots in the league, I can’t imagine teams not wanting him.

  3. DED
    July 31, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Unfortunately I think the better comparison might be Jay Bruce and Ben Grieve, two slow-moving lefthanded hitters who crap out early after promising beginnings.

    • July 31, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      That’s incredibly pessimistic.

      Besides, the better comparison would be to Gomez. Over 99-00 Grieve had 55 HR and an .843 OPS and after that he never topped 20 HRs in a season and never had an .800 OPS again. We’ve already seen Bruce bounce back to his previously established level of both hitting and defense.

  4. Chris F
    July 31, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Doesn’t seem to matter, as Bruce talks have cooled off, and SA on to Cespedes.

  5. Chris F
    July 31, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Anderson appears afraid and incompetent to make a ballsy move. He loves giving up stars for prospects, incapable of acquiring talent the other way around.

  6. James Preller
    July 31, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    On Gomez, I think Brian is wildly overreacting to a down, injury-plagued 2015 season. He’s 29. If healthy, he’s one of the top CFers in baseball. A true 5-tool player. I see no valid reason to predict that he’s on a downturn.

    On Sandy’s Plan: I think he was on his way and had Gomez right there for the taking, but he screwed it up at the last minute. Now it all feels a little panicked and inconsistent. We will see what he pays for a rental.

    I am open to see what comes next. This is his time and we’ll see where it takes the NY Mets. Nothing we say today or tomorrow will make a bit of difference.

  7. James Newman
    July 31, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Great post Brian. If the Mets were to get Bruce, Granderson would slide over, and I’m assuming Lagares could come in as a defensive replacement. Would be an interesting situation moving into 2015 with Bruce, Conforto, Cuddyer, Granderson and Lagares good to play outfield, and Nimmo coming up quickly.

  8. Chris F
    July 31, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Fulmer and Cessa going to Detriot for a 2 month rental of Cespedes.

    Wow.

  9. Aging Bull
    July 31, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Wow is right. I like this over the Gomez deal.

  10. July 31, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Well, Fulmer is obviously a legit prospect. He’s not on the level of Harvey/deGrom/Thor/Matz/Wheeler, though. Does anyone really think the Mets will be able to afford hanging on to all of these guys? Fulmer was part of the next wave.

    Still, Cespedes is a big, big bat to add to the lineup. He’s a rental, but he changes the dynamic of the lineup dramatically. However, he complicates the OF situation. Grandy in CF? Conforto demoted?

    Don’t forget that Cessa is a nice piece as well.

    Hm….all in all I think I like this deal.

  11. James Preller
    July 31, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    I wonder if anyone is going to tell Terry.

    • Chris F
      July 31, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      Ok, that was funny James.

    • Aging Bull
      July 31, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      Now that’s funny!

  12. James Preller
    July 31, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    TC in clubhouse: “Who are you? What the what??!!”

  13. Metsense
    July 31, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    The Mets had 21 starting pitching prospects in their minor league system (A level and above) that have ERA’s below 4.00 (except those pitching in Las Vegas).They could eventually become major league starting pitchers except that the next opening in the Mets rotation isn’t until 2019. It really didn’t hurt to trade a few for some rental offensive help for the 2015 pennant run. Sandy traded 5 and the Mets have sixteen left. Cespedes was a steep price but I can live with it. No minor league prospect position players were traded. They are now fortified for the 2015 pennant drive and still on plan all the way until 2019 and beyond. This is exactly the way to work a plus farm system to benefit the major league team. We got a peek at Michael Conforto and we should see him back when the rosters expand in September. Sandy has improved this team to compete for the division in 2015.

    • July 31, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      He really has leveraged the pitching depth well. It’s what most of us have been asking him to do. Good stuff.

    • Aging Bull
      July 31, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Great perspective!

  14. Matt Netter
    July 31, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I am equally relieved they didn’t sign Bruce and excited they got Cespedes. James and Metsense, you make excellent points. Brian – great analysis.

  15. MattyMets
    August 1, 2016 at 10:48 am

    funny how this went full circle. That Gomez trade really would have been disastrous.

    I’m not in favor of a Bruce trade. It smacks of a desperate Kris Benson type move. While I’m not giving up on this season, this is increasingly just looking like it’s not our year. Even without Lagares, we have an OF logjam and already too many lefties out there. If they want a good OF bat to rotate in they could bring back our old friend Beltran for a fraction of the cost with no commitment beyond this season. Plus, it would increase the chances of him entering the Hall as a Met.

    Speaking of ex-Mets, I’d also love to see Joe Smith back in orange and blue.

    If we could land Lucroy, I’m all for it, but not Bruce. I’m also not in favor of Frazier.

    • August 1, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Bruce is doing well versus LHP (.778 OPS) and is killing it with RISP (1.125 OPS). Also, he’s got a higher OPS on the road than in his home park.

      Also, there’s no commitment beyond this year. He’s got an option with a $1 million buyout.

      It depends on what the cost is but I just saw over at ESPN that the Giants are much more interested in pitching than Bruce.

  16. Metsense
    August 1, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Bruce is not a fit but if that is the upgrade I will take it. Two months of Cespedes (LF), Granderson (CF) and Bruce (RF) is more than tolerable. They can sort out the outfield log jam this winter. They are 2.5 games out with a potential of 40,000 fans in the stands and increased TV ratings until the end of the season. Do it !
    Sure would be nice to sneak in and get Lucroy also.
    The White Sox want 5 prospects for Sale. They want to keep him because they think they can compete in 2017 but the suspension has clouded the issue. I would dangle Harvey in front of the White Sox and start a discussion.
    Just some thoughts to ponder.

    • August 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      The other nice thing about Bruce is that he acts as a sort of Cespedes hedge. If Cespedes opts out, the Mets can pick up Bruce’s option. Of course, that would mean a full season of Granny or Conforto in CF…

      • Chris F
        August 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

        DiComo reporting Mets on verge with Bruce. The fit to get him in is really challenging. The thought of Granderson and Conforto in CF makes me cringe. I hope we see room for Lagares in CF. Conforto looks to be a wild card still. But its hard to believe Ces will be a Met next year, so next year

        LF Conforto, CF Lagares/Granny, RF Bruce is my guess.

        For this year, it is more or less pointless how it gets shuffled around.

        • Chris F
          August 1, 2016 at 12:57 pm

          Apparently a done deal. Nimmo and 2 lower prospects for Bruce.
          Olney reporting Mets in on Lucroy still.

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