A Jay Bruce reunion makes too much sense to pass up

While the Mets front office continues searching high and low for a second baseman, reports surfaced yesterday that there was mutual interest between the Mets and outfielder Jay Bruce. While figuring out the rotation, infield and middle relief might be an enigma, this one move seems like a no-brainer.

Bruce has already proven himself in New York. Yes, he struggled when first traded here, but that could be chalked up to the understandable jitters of an anxious new dad having to change teams and cities in mid-season. Last year, mostly as a Met, and partly as a Cleveland Indian, Bruce produced one of his best seasons with a career high 36 home runs to go with 101 RBIs. Is he a perfect player? Of course not. He’s a roughly average fielder, he’ll never steal a base, and of his 10 big league seasons, only one featured a batting average over .265. He also strikes out at a pretty good clip.

On the positive side, he’s a proven lefty power hitter who can be counted on to hit 30 plus home runs every year, he can play right field or first base, he’s a good clubhouse guy, and, get this, he’s durable. Unlike many of his former and maybe future Mets teammates, Bruce is not all that familiar with the disabled list. The Mets need more guys like that. And they also need more veterans in the clubhouse who can set an example for the younger players and step up to talk to the media, which Bruce showed he was comfortable with in New York.

Another reason why this move makes so much sense is Bruce’s familiarity with the team. He not only knows the players but he already knows Mickey Callaway from his stint in Cleveland. Granted there’s not a ton of interaction between a right fielder and pitching coach, but surely these two became acquainted sharing a clubhouse, dugouts and airplanes through the playoffs last year. Bruce is familiar with the confines of Citi Field, the ubiquity of the New York press, and the logistics of spring training in Port St. Lucie. He could show up to Tradition Field on February 17th like he never left.

Signing Bruce would fill a number of needs. It would solidify the middle of the order. Having Michael Conforto batting second or third with Yoenis Cespedes and Bruce behind him would make for a formidable RBI trio. It would solidify the outfield. In addition to those three, with Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo we’d have the five guys we need. Yes, Conforto would have to play some center field, but with rest days, DH games, inevitable injuries, and games when Bruce could play first base, there would be plenty of playing time for Lagares and games for Conforto to play the corners. And speaking of first base, if Dominic Smith can’t emerge from the doghouse, a platoon of Bruce and Flores at first base would be a solid alternative, at least offensively.

As far as contract demands, with sluggers like Giancarlo Stanton and J.D. Martinez available, not to mention the three free agent hitters from Kansas City, half the Marlins lineup and maybe Jose Abreu, Bruce should not be in super high demand. Something in the neighborhood of four years and $15 to $18 million average per season should get it done. So, Sandy Alderson ,make the call and then turn your attention to finding us a lead-off hitting infielder.

17 comments for “A Jay Bruce reunion makes too much sense to pass up

  1. HarryH
    December 1, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Bruce would be a nice pesent find under the tree.

  2. Steve S.
    December 1, 2017 at 11:37 am

    Makes sense to me. And the Mets should be able to afford the price tag. Of course, we’re talking about the Wilponzian Mets here…

  3. MattyMets
    December 1, 2017 at 11:57 am

    The clear missing pieces offensively are a leadoff hitter and a #5 hitter while the clear defensive holes are at CF and 2B or 3B, plus maybe a backup or platoon at 1B. How do we fill all those holes with two players? Bruce solves the OF/1B/#5 hitter part while a trade for Dee Gordon would solve the leadoff/2b part. Then we could focus on pitching.

    An alternative plan would be to sign Frazier and Cain and move Cabrera to second. Or sign Cain and trade for Kipnis, but he’s more of a number 2 than a #5. Cain-Kipnis would be a nice top of the lineup, but you need a bigger bat behind Ces than Cabrera or Flores.

  4. John Fox
    December 1, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Signing Bruce would make sense at the right price, but if they do want him to play 1st base some then they better give him quite a few reps at 1st during spring training, as I remember his fielding stats in a short sample at 1st were bad.

    • MattyMets
      December 1, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      John, I thought he was surprisingly heads up and sure handed over there. Not much range though. Regardless of whether it’s him, Flore or Smith, we need a new second baseman with range. Too many balls squeaked through the Mets infield last year.

  5. Chris F
    December 1, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Will be interesting…apparently Bruce wants 5 years, which there is zero chance from this FO (and rightly so).

    • MattyMets
      December 1, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      I would not go to 5/90 as he reportedly is aiming for, but Cerrone seems to think we can get him for 3/39. Not happening. Meet halfway at 4/64 and I think we get him.

      • Jimmy P
        December 1, 2017 at 2:32 pm

        How much do you think Cain would cost?

        Who would you prefer?

    • December 2, 2017 at 2:23 am

      Zero chance from any FO Chris! But it’s a good starting point. FO can offer 3 years with a compromise of 4 @ 15 million per season.

  6. Pete from NJ
    December 1, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Everything written above is all spot on.

    What I remember the most is the day before JB was traded away he ran hard on a 4-3 ground out. This is compared to the rest of the guys moping around. He’s a classy professional who has a place on the team.

  7. Name
    December 1, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    I’m not trying to call you out, but just 10 months ago you wrote this piece, and this kind of mindset is pretty representative of the average fan nowadays.

    http://mets360.com/?p=31227

    People lament that young folks today have shorter and shorter attention spans, but how about the attitudes of a baseball/sports fan? Now people don’t even remember anything from yesterday, it’s all about what happens in the last 5 minutes.

    Player hits a HR – Fan : Let’s sign him to a 10 year / $1 billion dollar deal!
    Player strikes out in the next AB – Fan : We couldn’t even trade him for a bag of balls.
    Player win the game with a walk off single – Fan: It makes so much sense to sign him to a 20 year deal!

    I’m not saying that you can never change your mind, but i wish people had a little more fortitude to stick with their original opinions rather than always flip-flopping and doing complete reversals and catering to the bandwagon fan.

    • MattyMets
      December 2, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Name – I appreciate your loyalty to the blog (and the team). I reread my post and it was from close to a year ago. Circumstances change. At the time, that is how I felt. At that time we didn’t know that Bruce would have a terrific year while Cespedes would spend half the year on the DL. We also didn’t know that Dilson Herrera would injure his shoulder and possibly wreck his career. Jay Bruce is far from a great player, but he fills a few holes for us and has proven he can play here. Plus, unlike other available power hitters, he won’t command a king’s ransom.

  8. Eraff
    December 1, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Name…I don’t see the contradiction.

  9. TexasGusCC
    December 1, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    I wrote a post this morning that doesn’t appear here.

    Well, the jist of it is that it’s my opinion that Bruce didn’t start liking NYC too much more, unless the suitcase is full of money. Too, don’t forget that the Mets couldn’t get squat for him last August and the Reds couldn’t with a year and a half of contract left. Bruce is a plodding corner outfielder and his price will not be too high. I like him more than I used to, but I would still pass unless it a heck of a bargain.

  10. BK
    December 2, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Bringing back Bruce makes a ton of sense. If there is mutual interest, the big risk is there’s a team out there that blows up his market.

  11. Metsense
    December 2, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Dominic Smith has not proven he should be the starting first baseman going into the 2018 season. Juan Lagares is an elite defensive center fielder with a weak bat and durability issues. It would not surprise me to see Nimmo with his OBP taking at bats from Lagares. The Mets need an OF/1B power bat. Bruce would be good fit and so would Logan Morrison. Morrison is a better defensive first baseman but a weaker defense outfielder. Offensively they are similar but Bruce has had the more consistent career. Bruce is the better choice and will be more expensive.

  12. Jimmy P
    December 4, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Let me try a different tact on this issue:

    If the Mets had any interest in Bruce whatsoever, they should have never traded him to Cleveland.

    Obviously, right?

    In return they got $3 million (I’m making that number up) and a bad prospect. Meanwhile, they sent Bruce away and gave him a golden opportunity to increase his market value while playing meaningful games for a playoff contender.

    How much did Jay Bruce raise his value in those last few months with the Indians? Half a million a year? A million? Nothing? I don’t know, but my sense is it didn’t hurt. And also, it gave him a clear vision of what it’s like to play with a good organization, a winning team. He might have enjoyed it.

    Now supposedly the Mets have interest in bringing him back and I can only think of one reason why Bruce would return to the Mets: money and length of contract. Moreover, the Mets have that 1B issue hanging over their heads, and it could well be that Jay Bruce doesn’t want to get caught in that loop.

    So what did the Mets gain by trading Bruce away? If they truly hope to get him back this offseason, my answer is that they likely lost more than they gained. If they wanted him this year, they should have extended him — not flipped him.

    I don’t see him coming back.

    And I’d rather have Cain.

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