After weeks of constant rumblings of possible payroll cuts, reports of trade offers, and rumors of various contract talks, the New York Mets finally got their big bat. As a team trying to contend in 2018, the move for a big bat was one that everyone should have seen coming, even though many of us probably have grown skeptical over the last few weeks. The signing of Jay Bruce was a move that makes sense and should shape the rest of the Mets’ offseason plans.
Late Wednesday night, the Mets reportedly agreed to a contract to bring back his familiar face. Bruce’s powerful bat is slated to return to Queens on a three-year $39 million deal. The lefty hit 29 homers and drove in 75 runs for the Mets last season while hitting at a clip of .256/.321/.520 before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in August.
This deal was kind of a surprise as it had been reported that the Mets had been in contact with third baseman Todd Fraizer in recent days. Bruce had not been reported as being on the Mets’ radar, he had been widely connected to the San Fransisco Giants in recent weeks. His contract is a relative bargain compared to what he went into the offseason looking to sign. Early reports stated that Bruce was seeking a five-year $90 million deal. The slugger is only set to earn $10 million this season and $13 million each year over the next two years. His deal also contains a limited no-trade protection as he can specify five clubs on an annual basis in which he cannot be traded to.
How does the re-signing of Jay Bruce effect the current outfield situation of the New York Mets? This move effectively signals that Sandy Alderson and Mickey Calloway are comfortable with Michael Conforto roaming center field once he returns from his shoulder injury. As of now, their center field options consist of a mix of Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo. The club has seemed to be very open to possibly move Lagares, so this could change, but Queens seems to have a solid mix outfielders for years to come. Barring any trades/injuries, the Mets outfield of Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, and Jay Bruce can anchor their offense until at least 2021.
It is realistic to expect a trade from their depth of outfielders (aka Lagares), or another signing in order to try and build depth in their infield as the team is still in search for a second/third baseman. The acquisition of Bruce goes a long way in improving the team’s offense but they should not have to rely on a mix of Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and T.J. Rivera to supply the offensive pop from second and third base. This is especially true when the offensive productions from youngsters, Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario are still very much in question. Also, none of those veteran players have shown that they can a). stay healthy all year, b). provide consistent offensive production.
As most Mets fans probably feel, I am confused on our payroll situation. Management has made things very unclear with consistent conflicting messages over this slow-moving offseason. How much money do the Mets have left to spend? Who knows! There had been reports of talks between Todd Frazier and the Mets earlier in the week but that does not seem likely after the events of last night. Howie Kendrick could be a good fit for a free agent signing as he would be an inexpensive acquisition. Kendrick can hit, play all over the diamond and has been known to be a great clubhouse guy. The 34-year-old produced 9 home runs and drove in 41 runs last year while hitting .315/.368/.844 with the Phillies and Nationals last season.
If the team decides to improve their roster through trade, options could include an acquisition of Starlin Castro or another look at a trade for utilityman Josh Harrison. It does not seem that the Mets have enough in their farm system to trade for either player, but the Miami Marlins could look to sell low on Castro as he has recently asked for a trade. It might be time for the Mets to capitalize on the fire sale from Miami. Castro is under contract until 2020 and could provide the extra offense that the Mets are in search of. The signing of Jay Bruce was a step in the right direction for truly assembling a contending team in 2018. In the end, more moves need to be made.