Most of baseball agrees that trading Dilson Herrera for Jay Bruce in 2016 was a mistake by Sandy Alderson and the Mets front office. For one, some argue that Herrera could have still been viewed as the team’s “Second Baseman of the Future” and that the Mets sold low on a prospect. For another the Mets had an overcrowded outfield with Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares. Basically, the Mets added the best bat they thought they could and ignored an inability to get him playing time.
Remember though that Cespedes was set to enter free agency and that Conforto’s efficacy at the plate had taken a nosedive. Bruce was essentially insurance for the Mets in the case that Cespedes had to leave town. Hindsight being 20-20 we know that Cespedes didn’t leave town and that there were so many free agent sluggers in the current offseason that moving Bruce was basically impossible.
So, why isn’t Bruce as big of a mistake as everyone keeps shouting?
Spring Training is around the corner and the Mets will get a chance to see Bruce, Granderson, Conforto and even Brandon Nimmo (the left-handed outfielders) all take reps and at bats. Many times, Spring Training see’s one or another player take off or have an utterly miserable time at the plate. The other thing it does (particularly with the World Baseball Classic) is open up the unfortunate possibility that a given player might get hurt.
Perhaps the Mets will need Bruce to fill in for an injured player or, more likely, another team, who hadn’t needed an outfielder, will suddenly find themselves in need.
Imagine for a second that Bruce shows up this spring motivated and swinging a hot bat. Alderson has gone from eating part of his contract and acquiring a mediocre relief pitcher to netting a significant return for a player who is still quite capable of producing in the middle of many batting orders.
As much as it hurts to be a fan, waiting for something to happen. It might be a blessing in disguise that Alderson enters the pre-season with an extra bat in tow.